2014 Virgin London Diary: Ibrahim Jeilan, El Matador, by Larry Eder

In the 2011 World Championships 10,000 meters, Mo Farah began a long move with one thousand meters to go. His big increase, with 300 meters to go, had him running with one unknown Ethiopian, Ibrahim Jelian, who had run 27:02.81 for the WJR.

Mo Farah, faltered, something he would not do for the next three years. In Daegu, Ibrahim Jeilan defeated Mo Farah over 10,000 meters. In retrospect, it was the best thing to ever happen to Mo Farah. Mo, since then, has won the 5,000 meters and 10,000m in London, then, won the 10,000 meters, this time from Ibahim Jeilan, in Moscow and defended his title over 5,000 meters from Daegu, Korea.

For Ibrahim Jeilan, who is debuting, as is Mo Farah, over the marathon, in Virgin London, he wants a 2:06. He would not say it, but the newly beared Jeilan sure would not mind to catch Mo Farah at the finish, as he did in Daegu....

El Matador, Jeilan celebrates in Daegu, photo by PhotoRun.net
Ibrahim Jeilan is unique among the Ethiopians. He is not brash, just confident. But, in Ethiopian culture, he sticks out a bit. 

When I spoke to some who know him, they smile, with affection. Coach Claudio Berardelli, with whom Jeilan has trained for the past several months, in preparation for London, told me, " Ibrahim is very special. He is a fun, very nice person. He trains hard. He understands what it means to focus for a major event." 

Jeilan was out of sight in the Moscow 10,000 meters, until late in the race. He and Mo Farah battled over the last 300 meters with very different results than Daegu is 2011. 

For Jeilan, this is his first marathon. He ran one half marathon, finishing eleventh in 64:37 in Lisbon, last October. But, dont' write him off your list. Jeilan is dangerous.

"This is my first marathon. I have prepared very well. I know fastest athletes are here. I do worry about that. I prepared very well, I have full confidence, I expect something good! " was how Jeilan, bearded and quieter, referred to his winter of focus. 

Jeilan has not forgot that Mo Farah is here, and he made it quite clear on his thoughts there as well! 

 " I can not say that he will win this race, but I can say he will run very good," was how Ibrahim Jeilan described how Mo Farah could do. The crowd of running savvy media, chuckled at his comment. 

Ibrahim Jeilan has the 10,000 meter pedigree to run well over this distance. He reminds me of Lasse Viren, always ready at the end of a race. Watch for Jeilan to be around, if the pace dawdles, in the end of a race, to try and burst Mo Farah's bubble. 

But also watch Ibrahim Jeilan to run a decent debut marathon. " I would like to run 2:06 here."  noted Jelian to the crowd.

Not much for small talk, Jelian noted, smiling that someone thought of his beard, " I do not like to shave. I was focused on running." 

If you think that Ibrahim Jeilan does not have Mo Farah on his mind, then, I have swamp land in Florida. Jeilan is a spoiler, and he did so in Daegu and came close in Moscow. 

Ibrahim Jeilan has a debut marathon to run. And a party to spoil. 

Watch for the results on Sunday. 

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