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Baldini: Farah can win London Marathon

Mo Farah has what it takes to conquer the London Marathon at the first attempt. That is the view of 2004 Olympic Marathon champion Stefano Baldini.

The Italian, who took gold in Athens, has followed the reigning 10,000m world and Olympic champion’s progress since training with Farah in Kenya and says the Brit can claim victory in his first outing over the marathon distance.

“Mo has ten years at top on the track and over cross country distances, so he probably needs some time to become a real marathon runner, but I think it's possible for him to win at the first attempt because he is a champion,” said Baldini, speaking at the launch of the new Asics Gel Super J33 in Milan.

Baldini told Men’s Running: “It will be completely different because of the course - on road the and not the track, and it’s different because of his style. Mo is a long step runner, and he needs to run with shorter steps.

“Normally you need two marathons (to get used to it) and by your third you are ok, because you need 18 months with six months in between races, then you are ready to be strong and consistent.

“Some Africans run their first marathon very fast and then run a bad second, bad third, then they’re OK in the fourth, so the key is to be consistent over a long period. But I am confident for Mo. We ran together in Kenya some years ago in Iten. He is a very smart guy, he knows himself and knows everything about running.”

But Baldini warned Farah not to get sucked into a fast early pace when he tackles the cream of African distance running over the ultimate distance. The likes of new world record holder Wilson Kipsang and experienced names such as Geoffrey and Emmanuel Mutai will be wary of Farah’s speed at the finish and could attempt to tire him out with a quick race.

“They have to put on a strong pace from beginning, because they can’t give him the chance to feel comfortable. Mo has to stay in the back, like this year, he ran half the marathon in London and stayed quiet. The marathon starts after 30km, before that it’s easy to run a 2:55 (per km) pace.”

Farah’s road-racing inexperience was exposed by Kenenisa Bekele at the Great North Run in September when the older man got away from him on the final descent and even Farah’s famed final kick couldn’t close the gap to the great Ethiopian, but Baldini says he will be better for the experience.

“It could have been a lack of experience but he also had a long season,” said the Italian. “He ran fast from the beginning to the end of season and half marathon is a tough race to finish with.

“From now to London next year, he has six months, so it’s his best period, he doesn’t have to compete a lot, he just has to take his time.”(mensrunninguk.co.uk)

     

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