New Delhi: Two-time marathon world record holder Khalid Khannouchi sees no reason why India cannot produce world beaters, provided they are given the right kind of training, diet and support from a young age.
"There is no reason why only Africans should be great long distance runners. Focus, dedication and hard work can ensure that any good athlete can reach that level," said Khannouchi, who is in the city to promote the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon as its event ambassador.
On his first visit to the country, Khannouchi said he never imagined there would be such interest for running in India and was surprised to learn that in excess of 30,000 participants would taking part in the different events of the day.
The views were echoed by his former wife, coach and manager, Sandra Khannouchi, who said such numbers were common in big marathons like New York, Chicago and London but to see it happening in India made their visit here all the more meaningful.
"I hope to inspire young athletes with my story while I am in Delhi and will also spread the word around that the running movement has gained a lot of momentum in India," said Khannouchi.
Speaking of his own running career, Khannouchi said he was fortunate to have the right kind of people around him to guide his career and help him cope with injuries.
"I would enjoy running the 5,000 and 10,000 metres and it was Sandra who recognized the talent in me to run longer distances and convinced me to run the Chicago Marathon when I was 26.
"She planned my training and my victory there and timing was the fastest debut marathon ever and the rest is history," said Khannouchi.