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Olympic Running Events (VIII): 10,000 m with Kenenisa Bekele

„You can not control the whole world for ever“

2004-07-27

THE SITUATION:

„You can not control the whole world for ever“, Haile Gebrselassie once said. The Ethiopian 10,000 m runner will come to Athens to defend his Olympic title. He aims to win this event for a third time in a row, which would be an unique achievement in the history of the Olympic Games. But Haile Gebrselassie knows that it will be a tough task to win gold again. After dominating long distance running on the track for almost ten years there is a different runner who will be the favourite: Kenenisa Bekele, Haile’s young countryman.

It was already back in 1993, when Haile Gebrselassie had won the 10,000 m gold at the World Championships in Stuttgart. He then continued winning at these championships three more times in a row. In 1996 and 2000 Gebrselassie became the Olympic 10,000 m Champion as well, beating his archrival Paul Tergat (Kenya). Tergat has meanwhile switched to the marathon. Gebrselassie will follow him as well after the Games.

The Olympic 10,000 m gold in 2000 was the last big win in a track championship for Gebrselassie. Surprisingly beaten by Kenya’s Charles Kamathi in the world championships in 2001 it was Kenenisa Bekele who became World Champion two years later. In former years very few runners had managed to beat Haile Gebrselassie. Now Kenenisa Bekele will be the runner to beat.

KENENISA BEKELE – Overtaking his idol

Haile Gebrselassie has always been his idol. But in the meantime a dream became reality for Kenenisa Bekele. Just 22 years old the Ethiopian has become a hero as well and the successor of Gebrselassie.

Kenenisa Bekele seems to be even more versatile than Haile Gebrselassie. Because the young runner is superb at cross country running, on the track and indoors. He achieved something unique this spring, when he won both events at the World Cross Country Championships for the third time in a row (middle and long distance races). In contrast Haile Gebrselassie has never been able to win a World Cross Country race.


© Sailor

Additionally Haile Gebrselassie has already lost three world records to Kenenisa Bekele this year. First Bekele broke Gebrselassie’s world indoor record for 5,000 metres. Then he continued to break his idol’s marks at 5,000 and 10,000 metres outdoors. It was last year when Bekele became World Champion running only the second 10,000 m race of his life. He had also won his debut at the distance, beating Haile Gebrselassie a couple of months before.

Bekele shares the same manager with Gebrselassie – Jos Hermens. Some times he even trains together with Gebrselassie when they are in Addis Abeba with the national squad. “Kenenisa is absolutely focussed on Haile. He wants to beat his idol”, Jos Hermens says.
But he Dutchman believes that in the eyes of the Ethiopians it is Gebrselassie who will remain number one.
“The Ethiopians will always look up to Haile, because he was the first runner to be so successful. That will not change.”


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