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Netsanet Gudeta gave a portrayal of someone who had been supremely confident of getting the gold medal at the post-race press conference for the IAAF/Trinidad Alfonso World Half Marathon Championships Valencia 2018 but sometimes a peek behind the curtains of the puppet show is required, followed by a quiet word with the man who pulls the strings.
It’s probably not exactly how Gudeta’s Italian manager Gianni Demadonna would really like to be described but having guided her career since she first came to international attention when winning the Great Ethiopian Run in 2013, he was able to provide another perspective on the Ethiopian’s stunning performance in Valencia on Saturday.
It was an outing that ended with her not only winning her first global title but also improving the women’s-only race half marathon world record by 14 seconds to 1:06:11.
What he revealed was that the championships were not even part of her plans until barely a month ago, despite her finishing sixth and fourth at the last two editions and standing on the podium having led the Ethiopian to team silver medals on both occasions, and certainly the world record was not on anybody’s radar.
She has missed out on global championships on the track in the last three years, finishing sixth in the Ethiopian 10,000m championships in 2015, fourth over the same distance at the 2016 Olympic trials and then had just one outing on the track last year when she finished third in the national championships 5000m but wasn’t picked for London.
However, regardless of where and when Netsanet next races, after Valencia she will hear the announcer proclaim her as “world champion and world record holder” as she is introduced to the crowd.