The greatest cross-country runner in history admits he knew he was below-par after 11th place
Kenenisa Bekele insisted he is still on course to be in shape for the Olympics despite his shock 11th place at the Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country.
The six-time world long-course cross-country champion said after finishing 22 seconds behind winner Asbel Kiprop of Kenya that he arrived in Kenya knowing he was not in shape.
Bekele, who ended last season by going to No.1 on the world rankings for 10,000m, dismissed suggestions the slightly boggy and undulating course was to not his liking.
“The course was okay but the problem is my shape is not good,” he admitted after clocking 9:42.
“I don’t want to be in very good shape at this time because it’s a long time until the Olympics. If I’m in good shape now, I’m afraid I’m wasting energy before the Olympics. So I want to build up slowly.
“I was not serious for this race. My goal was the Olympics.”
Confirming he was “100 per cent healthy”, he said it felt strange to finish at what was by far his lowest-ever position in a senior cross-country race.
“I wanted a good position and I tried, but my body was not reacting well.”