„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.
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.”