Shock as Kenenisa Bekele withdraws from London Marathon

A handout picture released by the the London Marathon on September 30, 2020 shows Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele speaking to the media via Zoom in a virtual and socially distanced press conference from inside the official hotel and biosecure bubble for the historic elite-only 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon to be held on 4th October.


Photo credit: Bob Martin | London Marathon | AFP

What you need to know:

  • The world was eagerly anticipating a ‘battle royale’ between the world’s two fastest marathon runners at the Virgin Money London Marathon this Sunday.
  • London was going to be the first race back for Kenenisa after his astonishing performance at the 2019 BMW Berlin Marathon where he was only 2 seconds removed from the world record.

Kenenisa Bekele on Friday shocked the world after withdrawing from Sunday's Virgin Money London Marathon.

Here is the full statement from his management company Global Sports Communication:

The world was eagerly anticipating a ‘battle royale’ between the world’s two fastest marathon runners at the Virgin Money London Marathon this Sunday.

Kenenisa Bekele (2:01:41) was ready to take on fellow NN Running Teammate and world record holder Eliud Kipchoge (2:01:39) in a race for the ages. An unfortunate calf injury has forced Kenenisa to withdraw from the race.

London was going to be the first race back for Kenenisa after his astonishing performance at the 2019 BMW Berlin Marathon where he was only 2 seconds removed from the world record. In response to his withdrawal a dismayed Bekele said: “I am very disappointed that I cannot race on Sunday.”

“It has been a tough preparation time, with lockdown, when I couldn’t have my NN team around me. I was in good shape but then I picked up a niggle in my left calf after two fast training sessions close together in the last weeks of preparation.”

“I have been having treatment every day since then and I truly believed I would be ready, but today it is worse and I now know I cannot race on it.”

“This race was so important to me. My time in Berlin last year gave me great confidence and motivation and I was looking forward to show that again, I have worked so hard for it. I realise many people around the world have been looking forward to this race and I am sorry to disappoint my fans, the organisers and my fellow competitors. I will take time to recover and become fit again and I hope to be back in London next year.”

In reaction to the news Jos Hermens, manager of Kenenisa and director of Global Sports Communication / NN Running Team said: “The covid-19 pandemic turned the world upside down and had a big influence on the sports world in general, but also had a big influence specifically on the preparation of Kenenisa Bekele in the lead up to London Marathon."

"On the level where we work it is a thin line between a top performance and staying healthy. The unusual circumstances complicated this situation unfortunately. We will work hard to get him back to the highest level again.”

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