Road to Brussels: countdown with Noah Konteh

Road to Brussels: countdown with Noah Konteh
Road to Brussels: countdown with Noah Konteh

Age: 20

Coach: Rik Didden

PBs: 1’51”24 (800m), 3’43”88 (1,500m), 8’04”87 (3,000m), 14’39”01 (5,000m), 29’21”30 (10,000m)

Number of European Championship participations: 2

Best result: 17th (2022)

Noah, after two participations in the European Cross Country Championships for the juniors, you are now among the promising ones. Will that become more difficult?

“The distance of the selection competition is an adjustment. Last year I already ran four long crosses, and that was something different. The pace was the same as for the juniors, but three to four kilometers longer. In the meantime it feels better, even after my summer on the 10,000 meters. If I get to the European Championships, it will also be a difference compared to the juniors, especially the speed at which they run.”

How did you work towards the BK in Hulshout?

“I did an internship at Font-Romeu before Roeselare and I think it worked. I actually didn’t feel great during training, but it was nice to see that things worked out in Roeselare. I am working towards the Belgian Championships as I would any other competition, with great enthusiasm. I think it is important to take care of myself as best as possible, not to get sick or injured. Mentally I don’t live there in a very special way. I try to approach every match the same way.”

After Roeselare you could train for another three weeks until the Belgian Championships. What else have you done?

“At first I tried to recover well, but apart from some stiffness it went smoothly. And furthermore, I mainly trained like other years in the winter, which means focusing on endurance and running a decent volume. On Friday I will do my last heavy training. The most important thing for me at the Belgian Championships is to qualify for the European Championships, but I would also like to become Belgian champion among the promises.”

Are you also hoping for a nice place among the seniors at the Belgian Championships?

“I was seventh in Roeselare, but some big names were missing. If I can last a long time with the sub-top, so much the better, but I want to run my own race and am certainly not going to blow up my engine. I will rather start cautiously.”

How much chance do you give yourself of a European Championship selection?

“If I run like I did in Roeselare, there is a good chance, but every race has to be run. I don’t feel one hundred percent sure. First Hulshout, then EK. I don’t know what the surface will give, because that is important to me. I shouldn’t expect an accident in the coming weeks. That sometimes happens, for example, that I fall.”

If you reach the European Championships, what do you want to achieve?

“Enjoying a championship in your own country is the most important thing. I find it very difficult to name a place, because it is my first year with the U23s. I try to look at the people I have been with in recent years. If I am the first Belgian at the European Championships, I have done well. Top 30 seems nice to me, but I really don’t know.”

You are part of the Flemish preselection. What do you think of the project?

“I was on an internship, so I haven’t been there yet, but I think it’s good that a lot of attention is being paid to the European Championships in my own country. The wide selections also encourage everyone to train hard for it, so that’s all good news.”

Do you like to cross?

“Certainly, but not on all courses. Brussels or Dublin or Diest, I like that. As long as it’s not pure mud, like it used to be in Roeselare. I especially like the variety.”

What is your favorite cross country running course?

“Brussels anyway. The course has always been easy to walk in recent years, and I like long slopes that are not too steep. If it is as steep as in Turin, I don’t have the strength.”

What is your best memory of an international championship?

“The World Junior Championship final in the 3,000 meters in Colombia. I was second to last, but being allowed to stand there was really crazy.”

What have you learned from previous international experiences?

“The preparation can go well or badly, but sometimes it doesn’t matter at all. Last year everything went well towards the European Cross Country Championships, while the year before I was injured and ill during the preparation. And yet it only made one place difference. Last summer I had Covid in May, and I still ran a good European Championship.”

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Road Brussels countdown Noah Konteh


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