Australia’s marathon man Kurt Fearnley will have a distinct advantage over all his rivals at January’s IPC Athletics World Championships because it is in New Zealand according to Switzerland’s multiple world record holder Marcel Hug.
The 24 year old Swiss athlete will be one of more than 1,000 athletes from 70 countries competing in Christchurch and is set to face Fearnley in the marathon T54 which will take place on Sunday 30 January, the final day of competition.
“I think the fact it’s in New Zealand will be an advantage for him in terms of jetlag, climate and preparations,” Hug told www.paralympic.org, the International Paralympic Committee’s website.
“We’ll see if he will be able to use those in his favour and for the rest of us it’s just important to be well prepared as possible.”
At the World Championships Fearnley is only competing in the marathon, whilst Hug, who set a number of world records during 2010, will be racing in all distances from the 400m through to the marathon.
As a result he has a number of rivals to beat in order to retain the 10,000m world title he won four years ago and improve on the silver medals he won at 400m, 800m and 5,000m.
Marcel hug said: “I think there are many athletes who are pretty good and therefore I’m pretty excited by Christchurch.
“I guess David Weir, Kurt Fearnley and definitely Josh Cassidy are the main competitors but I’m also curious about the Chinese too. I haven’t seen them perform since Beijing, I think I’m just curious about the Asian athletes in general.”
In preparation for Christchurch Hug is training six days a week and at times covering up to 70km a day to get him in to shape for the longer distance events such as the marathon.
“I think many factors play a role in each discipline,” said Hug.
“Starts, as well as stamina and endurance are always important. That is why I’m not training for only one race at a time but all at once for all of them.”
As Christchurch is the last major gathering of international athletes ahead of London 2012, Hug is using the World Championships as a test event and does not fear burn out despite taking part in six different disciplines. Should he do well in all the races next month then it is likely he will do the same at the Paralympic Games.
“Doing six distances is especially a lot in one event but I’m competitive person,” said Hug. “I like to have many races in a short space of time because its helps me to find my rhythm.
“Christchurch is a very important event. It is a big step towards London because it let’s you know where you stand against your competitors and if you’re on the right track for 2012.
“I always said it would be great for me to win a gold medal at a Paralympic Games. If it’s going to be in London, then so be it!” he added.
In Christchurch Hug will be one of many big name athletes competing along with the likes of South African ‘Blade Runner’ Oscar Pistorius, Irish Sprinter and ‘Fastest Paralympian on the Planet’ Jason Smyth and American wheelchair racer Jessica Galli.