But Olympic hopeful must win in US

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

After finishing sixth in Italy last Thursday, Hendrick Ramaala has landed in the United States to compete in the New York Half-marathon on Sunday.

The 82nd 10km Castebuanu road race in Sicily marked Ramaala's final preparations for the World Athletics Championships in Japan at the end of this month.

"I used the Sicily race to assess my speed and I was happy with the result. Everything has been going well in terms of preparations for Japan," said Ramaala.

Sunday's half-marathon will be the second clash with multiple world record-holder, the great Haile "The King" Gebreselassie of Ethiopia.

The two top African runners took part in the London Marathon in April where Gebreselassie bailed out, while Ramaala finished third for the second year in a row.

"It's always great to compete against prominent runners of 'The King's' calibre. The man has been in terrific form lately," said Ramaala.

"He has been running some excellent times this year to date. For me the good thing is that the whole focus will be on him on Sunday.

"However, there will be other big names.

"For me it is part of my final preparations for the championships."

Ramaala, 35, is using the World Athletics Championships to sharpen himself up for a shot at the elusive Olympic medal in Beijing.

"The focus is on the Olympics. It is the dream of every athlete to win an Olympic medal," said Ramaala, who will lead the South African marathon team in Osaka.