Sunday, 23 August 2009

Bekele conquers another superlative

Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia can add the 5000m World Championship title to his collection after winning in Berlin  (Getty Images)

Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia can add the 5000m World Championship title to his collection after winning in Berlin (Getty Images)

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    • (L-R) Bernard Lagat of the United States, Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia and James C'Kurui of Qatar sprint for the line in the men's 5000m final in Berlin
    • (L-R) Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele does his lap of honour after winning the gold medal in the men's 5000m at the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics

    Berlin, Germany - Once more Kenenisa Bekele has conquered a superlative. One year after his double Olympic triumph he repeated that amazing feat on the final day of the 12th IAAF World Championships in Berlin.

    Six days after winning the 10,000 m final the Ethiopian also took the gold in the 5000m. By doing so Bekele became the first man to take both the long distance track gold medals at the same World Championships.

    “It was a very hard race, because everybody was strong. Now I have won the double which makes me very happy and proud – this is something special,” said Bekele, who including World Cross Country team titles the 27-year-old has now won an incredible total of 24 world championships gold medals.

    Back in 2003 Bekele had first attempted the long distance double, but in Paris he was beaten by Eliud Kipchoge and Hicham El Guerrouj in the 5000m. So far his fellow Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie had been closest to this double gold. In Stuttgart in 1993 Gebrselassie took the 10,000m gold and the 5000m silver.

    There probably was no one who was able to describe better what Bekele had achieved in Berlin than Bernard Lagat. After a great battle on the homestraight the defending champion from the USA (Lagat hat won the 1500 and the 5000 m in Osaka in 2007) took second in 13:17.33 minutes behind Bekele (13:17.09).

    “Kenenisa has really everything that it takes to be a champion. I would love to be like him. He is really great and I presume we will have to wait for a long time before we will see another runner like him in the future. Kenenisa is one of the greatest athletes of all time,” said Bernard Lagat.

    “It is nice to run with him in such a great final. We have both given really everything we had on the homestraight – he won gold and I won the silver. It is good running against him because he gets out the very best of me.”

    Being the only double medal in a single event besides Usain Bolt (100 and 200m) in these World Championships Bekele was asked if he feels relegated concerning the media interest compared to the Jamaican.

    “In my eyes it is correct that Usain gets that much more attention, because what he did was unique. He not only won the two golds, but broke two World records as well. What Usain Bolt does is good for the development of our sport,” said Bekele, who had said earlier in the week that he would be ready for an 800m contest against the Jamaican. “I would definitely beat him at this distance.” 
     
    Bekele had a shaky opening of the season, when he dropped out of a 1500 m race in Hengelo and then just managed to keep his AF Golden League Jackpot dream alive at the first meeting in Berlin. There he won the 5000m. But afterwards he got stronger and stronger again.

    “When I saw him in Hengelo I noticed that he was a little overweight,” said his Dutch manager Jos Hermens, who revealed that the injury that Bekele had sustained last November was not a stress fracture in his foot but a badly bruised bone above the ankle. “The problem was that the bruise was inside the bone, which was very painful and takes much longer to heal than a stress fracture,” explained Hermens.

    “When I had come to Berlin Jos checked my calf to find out if I was fit and had lost weight, because in Hengelo I had too much weight,” said Bekele. “After Hengelo I sat down with my family, because I knew I had to do something to get back to peak form,” said Bekele, who revealed that he has coached himself already for the past two years.

    “A coach could only help me with may be 10 or 15 percent of what I do. So I do not really need a coach, I do it on my own. But sometimes I get help from Woldemeskel Kostre (the Ethiopian long distance national coach) when it is about doing some track sessions,” said Bekele, who added: “I also determine my own tactics and I like doing this.” Asked if the coach’ would be happy with his athlete Bekele laughed and said: “Yes, the ,coach’ is happy!”

    Bekele will now focus on the AF Golden League Jackpot. He needs to win the 5000 m races in Zurich next Friday and in Brussels in the following week to make sure that he takes at least a share of the US$1 Million prize.

    “He may be able to improve his season’s best of 12:56 minutes,” said Hermens. But World record attempts will not play a role this season. “I believe that I can still improve my world record in the 10,000m, but not this year,” said Bekele. Next year, when there will be no major championships, it will be different.

    If he would dream of winning Bekele was asked. “Oh yes, I always dream that I win,” he replied. Has he also dreamt about a marathon victory yet? “No I have not had that dream yet and at present I can not say when I will run one.” But for sure the marathon will be another challenge in the future for Bekele.

    Jörg Wenig for the IAAF