Want to inspire millions of people in India: Kipchoge

New Delhi, Nov 17 (IANS) Rio Olympics gold medallist Eliud Kipchoge, who is all set to debut in Sunday’s Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (ADHM), says he decided to race in India to inspire millions of citizens here.

The 32-year-old Kenyan, who clocked 2:08:44 minutes to clinch the Olympic gold in Rio, said he felt familiar with the conditions in India and hoped to give his 100 percent on Sunday.

“I felt familiar coming here to India..perhaps it may be because of the weather conditions. This is my first marathon after Rio and the decision to compete in India was also to inspire millions of Indians to take up road racing as a potential career,” he told IANS here on Thursday.

Asked what has changed in his life, after winning the Olympic gold, the long distance runner was quite humble to concede that he still felt like a student.

“Status-wise, it has changed a bit but apart from that I still feel I am a student. Every race teaches a new lesson to the athletes and I am quite lucky to have a great legend like Patrick Sang as my coach,” he said.

Commenting on the East African rivalry against Ethiopian athletes, Eliud said: “The aim is to to better my own record as I treat myself as my biggest competitor.”

“Ethiopian athletes are really tough competitors and many of them have run in India before, which also gives them an edge. But the Kenyans are no less and come Sunday, we are sure of giving a run for their money,” he added.

Attributing “good planning and preparation” as his key to success, the Kenyan said more than planning and strategising it is the execution which matters the most during a race..

“The course here is really flat and it will help in maintaining good speed and producing a good time. I want to go below 59 minutes and try to beat my best time,” he said.

“Although it is a bit hot during the day, it is quite cool early in the morning and will be ideal for running.”

Highlighting the difference between half marathon and full marathon, he said the preparation for the two events differ a lot.

“Preparations for a half marathon is quite different from that of full marathon. The speed is intensive but it can’t be counted as easy. You have to stratetise keeping in mind the weather and course conditions. I definitely do enjoy a lot while running a half marathon,” he said.

On Sunday, Eliud will be seen in action in elite company of compatriot Augustine Choge and Australian David McNeil among others.

On the other hand, Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir and Helah Kiprop are expected to face stiff competition from the Ethiopian duo of Worknesh Degefa and Netsanet Gudeta. 40-year-old Italian veteran Valeria Straneo, who won her last two marathons in Italy, may also be a tough opponent for the African athletes.