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Tola aiming for 2:05 on Sunday

Eindhoven favourite Tola aiming for 2:05 on Sunday

Eindhoven favourite Tola aiming for 2:05 on Sunday

Eindhoven favourite Tola aiming for 2:05 on Sunday

Tadesse Tola got married just three weeks ago but the Ethiopian runner and his bride haven’t had time for much of a honeymoon yet.

After a ceremony in his home city of Addis Ababa that was attended by many local athletics luminaries including the former world cross country champion Gebre Gebremariam, and a post-wedding party that saw 5000m and 10,000m world record holder Kenenisa Bekele drop by, it was quickly back to business for Tola.

The reason for Tola not taking any time off despite his nuptials was his presence at the Marathon Eindhoven on Sunday, along with his burning ambition to make his first Olympic team.

“I want to run a very fast time at the Marathon Eindhoven so I have to concentrate,” said Tola.

“I think I am in good shape and can run 2:05, maybe 2:04, here” added the man who last year went under 2:07 on two occasions and can boast of a best of 2:06:31.

“I feel very strong but I also know I need to run a good time if I am to make the Olympics.

“When you think about the Olympics and the marathon, you often think about Ethiopians like Abebe Bikila and the other gold medallists. I would like to be someone who can say that he has been to the Olympics, worn an Ethiopian vest and run in the marathon. It would make me and my family very proud, ”

“And to do that, the Marathon Eindhoven is the first step on that road,” he added, speaking in good English.

Ethiopia’s selection policy for the Olympic Games in London next summer has not yet been announced but traditionally the nation has taken its three fastest runners at a given date, with times achieved during a specific qualifying period.

With Tola’s proven ability to finish in front – winning the Paris Marathon last year and also finishing second in Frankfurt – another marathon victory in a very quick time would definitely catch the eye of the selectors especially as, at the time of writing, only one Ethiopian runner has gone under 2:06 so far in 2011.

If Tola hits his target in the Dutch city and improves his personal best by 30 seconds or more – which would also be a significant reduction on the current Marathon Eindhoven course record of 2:07:01 set by Kenya’s Geoffrey Mutai in 2009 – then it would obviously put him in contention for a place on Ethiopia’s Olympic team.

Despite only being 23 – he turns 24 on October 31 – Tola already has a reasonable amount of major championship experience, having been to three World Cross Country Championships and contested the 2007 World Championships 10,000m, in which he finished 13th.

Tola also finished seventh at the 2006 World Road Race Championships over 20km, when he was still only a teenager, a result which made him think that eventually his future might lie with the marathon. He made his debut over the classic distance three years later, finishing ninth at the 2009 Chicago Marathon.

He has since had a continuous upward trajectory in the last 24 months ago, although he demurred from running a marathon earlier in the year.

“I was a little injured after I ran the Frankfurt Marathon last October but in the last six months I have been training very well. I am now ready for Eindhoven,” said a determined Tola on Thursday.

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