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Olympic Running Events (V): 5,000 m women with Elvan Abeylegesse

Her coach is not born in Turkey as well. Ertan Hatipoglu comes from Bulgaria

2004-07-04

THE SITUATION:

Besides the 1,500 metres there is another chance for Turkish glory in Athens in the 5,000. No one would have expected that a couple of years ago. Since she broke the 5,000 metres world record at the Golden League meeting in Bergen (14:24,68 minutes) Elvan Abeylegesse is a favourite for Olympic gold. She is the first ever Turkis world record holder in athletics. Her coach, Ertan Hatipoglu, compares her with a car: “She has good tyres and a fine and motor like a sports car.“ He expects her to be able to break the 5,000 m world record again. “I think 14:20 minutes are possible for her.“

But perhaps Berhane Adere will double in Athens. The 10,000 m world champion from 2003 has shown her strength at 5,000 metres in the past as well. She also had the potential to run a world record at this distance. Another strong runner from Ethiopia is Tirunesh Dibaba. Actually she has won the 5,000 m gold medal at the World Championships last year. At the World Cross Country Championships this year she was second at the 4 k event. This distance was won by the strongest Kenyan so far at 5,000 m: Edith Masai. She will also be fighting for gold in Athens. But altogether it looks as if the Ethiopians will be very strong again.

ELVAN ABEYLEGESSE – Immigration to Turkey at 17 years

Elvan Abeylegesse was just 17 years old when she moved to Turkey. First contact to Turkey had come after she had competed at the World Cross Country Championships in 1999 as a junior. After finishing ninth she got an invitation for a track meeting in Istanbul. “I very much liked it in Turkey. And it seemed easier for me to reach my goals in Istanbul than in Ethiopia because support was much better. Since I had started running my goals were to break a world record and become an Olympic Champion one day“, Elvan Abeylegesse explained. She has seven sisters and brothers back in Ethiopia and her father worked at a paper factory. She got Turkish citizenship very quick because she married. Meanwhile she has long been divorced again but speaks Turkish fluently. She lives in a one room apartment in Istanbul, which is on the grounds of a sports center.

Her coach is not born in Turkey as well. Ertan Hatipoglu comes from Bulgaria and had been a triple jumper in former times. He has not coached any well known international athletes before. There was an 800 m runner with a personal best of 2:01 minutes and a 10,41 100 m sprinter.

Ethiopian officials are not so pleased with Elvan Abeylegesse since she became more successful at international level. “During the winter last year I intended to train at high altitude back in Ethiopia. But the officials did not allow me to do it“, Elvan Abeylegesse, who also is number one this year at 1500 metres with 3:58,28 minutes, reports. Instead of training in Ethiopia she went to high altitude in Turkey. Sometimes in winter the trials are covered with snow.


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