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IAAF World Cross Country: Another double for Bekele while Kenya suffers a heavy defeat

Kenenisa Bekele was so strong that none of his competitors had any chance

2004-03-21

Kenenisa Bekele has added another unique triumph to his phenomenal cross country record: For the third time in a row the 21 year-old Ethiopian won both distances at the 32nd IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Brussels. A day after winning the 4 k race on Saturday the 10,000 m World Champion from Paris 2003 stormed to a second victory in the 12 k race clocking 35:52 minutes. Bekele is the only man who won both distances in the World Cross Country who ever won both distances in these championships. Already in 2002 and 2003 Bekele, who is widely seen as Haile Gebrselassies successor, had taken the two gold medals.

On a muddy grass course of Brussels Parc dOsseghem Kenenisa Bekele was so strong that none of his competitors had any chance of beating him. The Ethiopian did sent a clear signal regarding the Olympics in Athens in August: Whoever wants to win Gold in the 10,000 metres has to be able to beat Bekele. At present that evens seems to be impossible for Haile Gebrselassie. The 10,000 m world record holder had once again left out the cross country season. “I made history in the name of my country. And that makes me proud“, Kenenisa Bekele said, adding: “Actually I had more respect of the shorter distance, because it is such a fast race. For me running 12 k is easier because the pace is more steady.“

Originally Bekeles manager Jos Hermens, who also manages Haile Gebrselassie, had tried to convince his young star not to run both distances in Brussels. “This year clearly the Olympic Games are the main event. Regarding the preparations for Athens I advised Kenenisa not to run twice in the World Cross Country Championships.“ But presumably Ethiopian officials convinced Bekele to go for the double. “It now depends on how Kenenisa will feel on Monday. If he is fine it was okay for him to run both“, Jos Hermens said and added: “Even me I am surprised how strong Kenenisa runs against such high class opposition. He is strong on all surfaces – outdoor, indoor and at cross country.“

It was Benita Johnson who remained the only athlete to be able to beat the Ethiopians and Kenyans in a race for a gold medal in Brussels. The Australien had won the 8 k race on Saturday. Adding the team results Ethiopia won nine out of twelve gold medals. So the first major running battle between Ethiopia and Kenya had a big looser: Kenya. It was only Edith Masai who could win a gold medal at an individual event. She defended her title in the 4 k race, clocking 13:07 minutes.

For the first tiime since 1984 Kenyan men won no medal at all in the individual mens events. And another era came to an end in Brussels: Having dominated cross country running for many years Kenyas men had won the team title at the long distance for 18 successive years. But this time the winner was Ethiopia.

Results:

Men, 12 k: 1. Kenenisa Bekele ETH 35:52 Minuten, 2. Gebre-egziabher Gebremariam ETH 36:10, 3. Sileshi Sihine ETH 36:11, 4. Eliud Kipchoge KEN 36:34, 5. Charles Kamathi KEN 36:36, 6. Tadesse Zersenay ERI 36:37. Teams: 1. Ethiopia 14 points, 2. Kenya 30, 3. Eritrea 66.

Women, 4 k: 1. Edith Masai KEN 13:07, 2. Tirunesh Dibaba ETH 13:09, 3. Teyba Erkesso ETH 13:11, 4. Werknesh Kidane ETH 13:14, 5. Isabella Ochichi KEN 13:18, 6. Olga Romanowa RUS 13:19. Teams: 1. Ethiopia 19, 2. Kenya 21, 3. Canada 87.

Junior men, 8 k: 1. Meba Tadesse ETH 24:01, 2. Boniface Kiprop UGA 24:03, 3. Ernest Meli Kimeli KEN 24:16, 4. Barnabas Kiplagat Kosgei KEN 24:24, 5. Mulugeta Wendimu ETH 24:44, 6. Hosea Macharinyang KEN 24:51. Teams: 1. Kenya 20 Punkte, 2. Ethiopia 25, 3. Uganda 33.


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