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Kenenisa Bekele: Golden Distance Runner

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Kenenisa Bekele: Golden Distance Runner

Kenenisa Bekele

Michael Steele/Getty Images
One of the elite distance runners of all-time, with the championships and records to prove it, in 2008 Bekele became the sixth man to do the Olympic distance double. Bekele set new Olympic records while winning the 5000 meters (12:57.82) and the 10,000 (27:01.17). He then repeated the double at the 2009 World Championships.

Country star:

Bekele has been the most dominant cross country runner of the decade. After winning the World Junior Cross Country Championship in 2001, he won world titles in both the long and short cross country races in 2002-06. He’s the only man to win both races in the same year. He also won the senior race in 2008 despite dropping behind early in the event when one of his shoes fell off.

Double down:

Bekele has attempted the rare 5000- and 10,000-meter double on several occasions but, prior to Beijing, hadn’t quite been able to pull it off on the biggest stages. He won the 10,000 and was second in the 5000 at the 2004 Olympics. He placed third in the 5000 at the 2003 World Championships while winning the 10,000.

Career highlights:

In addition to his Olympic gold medals and 2009 World Championship success, Bekele won three consecutive World Outdoor Championships in the 10,000 (2003-07). He also won the 3000 meters at the 2006 World Indoor Championships. He set world records in both the 5000 (12:37.35) and the 10,000 (26:17.53).

The stats:

  • Height: 5-4
  • Weight: 120
  • Age: 26
  • Birth date: June 13, 1982
  • Hometown: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • World Championships: Six

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