x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Ethopia's Merga joins Dubai Marathon runners to prepare for London Olympics

The Boston Marathon winner says his patience levels will be on test ahead of the June showpiece event in England.

Deriba Merga's personal best was set in London in 2008.
Deriba Merga's personal best was set in London in 2008.

Deriba Merga of Ethiopia will be taking the field at the Dubai Marathon with self-improvement on his mind ahead of the London Olympics later this year.

The 31 year old acknowledged patience or the lack of it cost him a podium finish in the last Olympics in 2009 at Beijing and wants to make amends when he joins a growing list of athletes for the January 27 marathon in the UAE.

The 2009 Boston Marathon winner finished fourth in the showpieve event in China after being in a leading position.

"I love to run at the front but in Beijing I set off far too quickly," he said after confirming his participation. "It's something I have been working on and I'll be paying close attention to better pace management in Dubai.

"When I lose, it is due to a lack of patience," he said.

With a marathon personal best of 2h:06m:38s set in London in 2008, Merga will be among the quickest men in a field that also feature five-time major winner Martin Lel of Kenya.

Merga is familiar with the conditions having won the 2011 Half Marathon in Ras Al Khaimah.

However, the Dubai Marathon has been upgraded since as the region's first IAAF Gold Label race and will sport a new route taking in the Burj Khalifa this year.

Like many other African runners, Merga comes from a modest childhood and for whom marathon is a sporting ticket to international acclaim and glory.

"I grew up helping my parents with farming and also going to school," he said. "I didn't have much joy as a child - it was a hard life but running became my hope in a difficult childhood."

"I woke up before 6am for training and would go on an empty stomach, train hard and then go to school for the whole day without eating. I would then go to the farm to tend to the cattle and might not eat until later in the evening. I tried to go to school, but I could not. It became a choice between training and school and I chose training."

Merga made his international debut in 2006 by winning the Paris Half Marathon, had his first full marathon appearance at Boston later. The same year he won the Great Ethiopian Run - Africa's largest 10km race - to announce his talent potential.