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Kenenisa Bekele

Kenenisa Bekele

Kenenisa Bekele is an Ethiopian professional long distance runner, and was born in Bekoji, Ethiopia on 13th June 1982. The town he was born in was the same town as the Dubabi sisters and Derartu Tulu who are also accomplished runners.

His brother, Tariku Bekele is also a well achieving long distance runner. Bekele is renowned for his acceleration at the end of a long distance run. His mentor is Kenyan runner Haile Gebrselassie.

Bekele ran a 3000 metre race in Brussels in 2001 where he set a new world junior record for the distance, which he continued to hold for the next 4 years before it was broken. From 2002 Bekele ran in short and long distance races for 5 years in the IAAF World Cross Country Championships and won them all. No other runner has ever managed the same achievement. In 2004, Bekele broke the world record for the 5000 metre indoor race. That same year he also broke the world record for the 10,000 metre outdoor race.

In 2003 Bekele accelerated at the end of the race in Oslo where he won in an amazing time of 12:52.26. The same year in Lausanne he recorded a time of 24 seconds in the last lap of 200 metres. Later he was up against his mentor in a road race, another time in a cross country race and on six track races.

The pair ran together in Nurnberg in 2000 over the 5000 metre distance but Gebrselassie beat Bekele.  Gebrselassie also came ahead of Bekele in the 2001 Great Ethiopian Run over 10 kilometres, as well as the Cross de l’Acier the same year.  However Bekele showed his talents when he beat his mentor in five other races including the Athens and Beijing Olympics.

Tragedy struck for Bekele when in early 2005 his fiancé died of a heart attack while she was training with him. Bekele naturally was devastated. At first it was said that there had been no autopsy, but later Bekele’s manager confirmed that the results of an autopsy had been ‘inconclusive’ meaning that the reason for her death had been unknown. Bekele was struck by grief for some weeks later but he began racing again after just three weeks, even more determined to succeed in memory of his wife-to-be.

As you would guess the beginning of 2005 was not a brilliant year in terms of achievements for Bekele, however he did managed to defend his title in the 2005 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, and subsequently won another race the following day. This is thought of by many as his best achievement.

Then in the 2005 World Championships Bekele came first winning the gold medal for his efforts. Later that year he set the world record for the 10,000 metre distance, which still stands today. His time was 26:17.53 at the Memorial Van Damme Meet. He later broke the world indoor record for the 2000 metre race in 2007 in Birmingham, England with a time of 4:49.59.

His 2012 did not start well, as he was a lowly eleventh place at the Edinburgh Cross Country. In April, he appeared to have returned to form by winning the Great Ireland Run in a new personal best time for a 10 km road race of 27:49, improving the course record by 46 seconds.

Career Highlights

  • 2012 Summer Olympics – Final
  • 2008 Beijing Olympics – Gold (2)
  • 2004 Athens Olympics – Gold, Silver
  • World Championships – Gold (2009,2007,2005,2003), Bronze (2003)

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