Canova Suggests African Marathoners will Struggle in Tokyo Olympics

Renato Canova has revealed he believes East African runners will struggle in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Marathon. The conditions will make it difficult for Kenyans and Ethiopians, the renowned coach stated in an interview with the Breaking Marathon Limits podcast

Specific Preparations Will be Key Ahead of Tokyo

Canova was in Norway to watch his athlete Sondre Nordstad Moen compete in a 10 000 meter track event Stadionmila. In response to a question about Moen’s chances of medaling in the marathon in Tokyo, Canova responded suggesting that African marathoners will struggle in Tokyo:

“(An Olympics medal) is possible for many people, because the real value of the athletes doesn’t have too much importance in these conditions. Thirty-five degrees Celsius and 95% humidity.

You need to be one of the best in the world, but at the end, the difference will be the level of specific preparation.”

Renato Canova Suggests African Marathoners will Struggle in Tokyo Olympics
Renato Canova suggests African marathoners will Struggle in Tokyo Olympics because of the conditions. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

According to Canova, Kenyans and Ethiopians don’t have the necessary knowledge to change up their training to optimise their chances in Tokyo. The Italian, however, has trained several athletes to win marathons in similarly challenging conditions. On the back of these experiences, Canova will try to get Nordstad Moen ready for Tokyo:

“I have an idea for several adaptations. Changing from up to down. We will see.”

Nordstad Moen Aiming to Reclaim the European Marathon Record

Despite the Olympic marathon looming in the distance, Canova was clear that the focus for him and Moen was elsewhere at the moment. Winning the Fukuoka Marathon in 2:05:48 back in December 2017, Moen become the European record holder in the marathon.

Less than a year later, however, Britain’s Mo Farah ran 2:05:11 in Chicago, and claimed the title as fastest ever European marathoner. Moen plans to return to the marathon in Valencia on December 1st. His goal? To go below 2:05 and reclaim the European record from Farah.

Julien Wanders and Sondre Nordstad Moen
Sondre Nordstad Moen (right) set a new national record in the 10 000 metres when he ran 27:24 this weekend. Here pictured after a 5k road race in Monaco earlier in 2019. Photo by P. Fitte / FMA

His performance this weekend over the 10 000 metres qualifies the Norwegian for the World Championships. Canova is clear that this competition is just a step on the way to marathon fitness, however:

“Probably in the World Championships, we will be a little less prepared than now for 10 000 metres, because we need to start to put in something longer.”

Speaking about Moen’s chances in Doha, Canova continues:

“I don’t think that he can beat this time (27:24), but can still have a good position at the end. In the marathon, the real goal is to take home again the European record. To beat Mo Farah.”

Farah Returning to Chicago

Mo Farah could well improve his European marathon record before Nordstad Moen gets to take a stab at it. The Briton is returning to Chicago Marathon in October to defend his title.

Farah had recently suggested that he might run the 10 000 metres in Doha just a week before the Chicago Marathon. As the defending champion in the event, this would see him square up to Moen in the shorter distances. However, Farah’s name was not on the list as Great Britain recently named its team for the World Championships.

Regardless, those of us who follow the elite level of marathoning should be in for an exciting time. Injuries notwithstanding, both Farah and Nordstad Moen could well be in contention for medals in Tokyo less than a year from now. The coming months will reveal who goes there as the fastest European marathoner of all time.

Listen to Renato Canova’s interview with the Breaking Marathon Limits podcast here. The interview, which is conducted in English, begins at 33:40.