Chinese long distance runner Duobujie has set himself the goal of finishing in the top eight of the men's marathon at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Should the native Tibetan achieve his aim, he would far improve on Chinese men's best Olympic marathon finish of 26th, set in 1988. "We have never entered the top eight, so I'm targeting the top eight this time and will set a higher goal next time," Duobujie told Xinhua.
Duobujie won the 2019 Xuzhou International Marathon in a time of 2:10:31, qualifying for Tokyo 2020 in the process. Becoming the first Chinese runner to run under 2:11:00 since 2007, Duobujie's performance received much attention at the time.
"I already had confidence from winter training before the event," said Duobujie, recalling the highlight of his career.
Since 2013, Duobujie has trained in Africa for several months a year. During his winter training before the Xuzhou Marathon, Duobujie's training partners included men's 5,000m and 10,000m world record holder Kenenisa Bekele, and 2019 marathon world champion Lelisa Desisa.
"I have been training with several high-level athletes and I have never fallen behind," said Duobujie.
However, Duobujie withdrew from two other marathons in 2019 - in Shanghai and at the World Championships in Doha. The reasons were almost identical - a stomach upset caused by drinking cold water to cool himself during the event.
Duobujie says he and his trainer are finding solutions. "The doctors said that there was no problem. I only need to get used to it during training by wearing fewer clothes, cooling myself more often and drinking more water," he said.
The Tibetan also has no regrets about his Doha withdrawal, noting that age is on his side. "I think this is also an experience. I am still very young. All those African high-level athletes achieved much over the age of 30. I am only 25 years old, so I don't think these are problems."
Now training in Africa, Duobujie hasn't been home to spend new year holidays for ten years. "My family just wants me to be healthy, find a less arduous job in my hometown and earn a good income," the runner says with a smile. "But I don't think so, because I still have my goals."
Karma is a typical Northern Tibetan.