Imperious Bekele defends 10,000m gold in style
Bekele’s 35-year-old team-mate Haile Gebrselassie, Olympic 10,000m champion in 1996 and 2000, came in sixth. Together, the two runners have ensured Ethiopian dominance in the event for a fourth successive Olympic Games.
Just as female compatriot Tirunesh Dibaba had done to win Friday’s 10,000m, Bekele hit the front just as the bell rung for the final lap, in perfect long-distance running conditions at the National Stadium.
Within the space of just a few seconds, Bekele had opened up the decisive gap between himself and the chasing pack.
Gebreselassie followed but in vain as he was overtaken by Sihine, who kicked past Kogo for second spot with 300 metres to go.
Bekele, the world record holder over both 5000m and 10,000m, kicked again with 200 metres to go as Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadesse was manhandled by Kogo around the final bend.
Kogo just saw off Kenyan team-mate Moses Ndiema Masai for bronze, with Tadesse coming in fifth at 1sec, with Gebrselassie a further 1.57sec adrift.
Eritrean Kidane Tadesse had guided the main peloton through the halfway point of the race at 13min 48.00sec.
With 10 laps to go, the pack reshuffled as runners battled for position, and Gebrselassie briefly took up the lead, to the cheers of a large flag-waving Ethiopian contingent of fans following tucked in the stands by the finish line.
Qatar’s Ahmad Hassan Abdulladh and Kenyan Martin Mathathi pushed the early pace, with the main contenders happy to follow in their wake.
With three laps to go, the main group had reduced to seven, but Bekele was in ominous form and bided his time for the final attack.
The question now for Bekele is whether he will attempt the double after twice falling just short, in Athens and the 2003 world championships where he came away with a silver and bronze resepctively.
The men’s 5000m heats are scheduled for Wednesday, with the final coming on Saturday.