Olympic and World marathon champion Gezahegne Abera of Ethiopia yesterday advocated the 'udder' style of running and said, half-jokingly, that if Hong Kong wanted to produce champion long distance runners, budding prospects should come and train with him in the hills of his hometown Aris. 'We have a natural advantage. Our environment produces champions, we eat a lot of natural and healthy food. And we drink a lot of milk from our cows. I would ask Hong Kong's young athletes to come and taste our way of life. I would recommend it,' said Abera, who is in town to run in tomorrow's Mizuno Hong Kong Half-Marathon at Tai Mei Tuk. And by all accounts it seems the milk is drunk fresh, virtually from the udder itself. Like most Ethiopians, Abera began running while tending cattle on his family's farm in Aris, 175 kilometres south of the capital Addis Ababa. His tough rural upbringing and the fact the town is famous for producing champion distance runners - 10,000 metres Olympic champion Haile Gebrselassie also hails from there - is a powerful elixir. 'No, it is not the water we drink. It is our cows' milk,' says Abera. 'Most of Ethiopia's best-known runners come from my town which is at high altitude. We are a town of champions.' The 24-year-old Abera overcame all the odds to win Olympic gold in Sydney in 2000. His triumph came despite falling at the 17km mark and hurting his knee and shoulder. He pulled away from Eric Wainana of Kenya after 39km to win the title. 'It was a proud moment for me. I became the first Ethiopian in 32 years to win the marathon gold medal at the Olympics. There were huge celebrations in my country,' Abera recounted. Less than a year later, Abera crowned himself with further glory by grabbing the double - winning the marathon at the World Championships in Edmonton, Canada. He beat Kenya's Simon Biwott by a mere second to achieve the unique double. 'I caught him in the closing stages of the race and we ran neck-and-neck into the stadium. When I reached the stadium I was sure I would win because of my sprinting kick.' Abera has the ability to start sprinting and outkick rivals at the end of the marathon. This, he believes, is one his strongest weapons. 'This is something that comes naturally to me. I do not train to outkick my rivals. In competition, if my rivals are strong, then I will wait until the last 100 or 200 metres to start sprinting. If they are weaker, then I push forward earlier,' explained Abera. The Ethiopian, who will be the chief guest at a seminar organised by the Hong Kong Amateur Athletics Association at Sports House this afternoon (3pm), is now aiming to defend both his Olympic (at the 2004 Games in Athens) and World titles (in Paris in August). He wants to be the greatest Ethiopian runner in history, even surpassing countryman Abebe Bikila, who won consecutive Olympic titles in the 1960s. 'I want to be the best. My dream and ambition apart from retaining both my world and Olympic titles is to break the world record. I will try to do that at the London Marathon in April,' said Abera. His personal best - two hours, seven minutes and 54 seconds achieved at the Fukuoka Marathon in 1999 - is more than two minutes off the world mark time of 2:05:42 held by Moroccan-born American Khalid Khannouchi. But Abera remains optimistic that he can come close this year to breaking the three-year-old record. 'Two minutes is a lot of time in a marathon. But with the right preparation, the right weather and the right pace-setters, I can break the record,' said Abera. Here to help celebrate the 10th anniversary Hong Kong Half-Marathon, tomorrow's race will be almost like a training run once it starts at the Tai Mei Tuk heliport. 'He runs 25 kilometres every day when he is back home training. And remember this is at an altitude of about 3,000 feet,' said coach Belay Wolashe. 'I think he should be able to win this race.' Abera laughs when asks if he will win. He replies: 'In what time do you want me to win.' All that milk must also be good for the confidence.