Strong return for Kenenisa Bekele in Brussels (Gladys Chai van der Laage) © Copyright
Bekele, who is also the World Record holder over both 5,000m and 10,000m, will be joined by an array of current and former World and Commonwealth medallists including Moses Kipsiro (UGA), defending Commonwealth Games 5,000m and 10,000m champion; Gebre Gebremariam (ETH), former World Cross Country champion; and Tariku Bekele (ETH), Kenenisa’s younger brother and a former World Indoor champion.
Seeking a unique third successive Olympic 10,000m gold medal this summer, Kenenisa Bekele says he is looking forward to competing against tough opposition in Birmingham.
“This race will be a great opportunity for me to compete against some of the best distance athletes and secure my place in the Ethiopian Olympic team. There are not many 10,000m races on the European circuit so I’m looking forward to an exciting battle in Birmingham. I am improving with every competition this season so I will be expecting to run a very fast race.”
Mo Farah, Britain’s World 5000m gold and 10,000m silver medallist, will not face Bekele over 10,000m this weekend, having chosen to race over 1500m in order to put his speed and finishing ability to the test.
For Farah, watching Bekele and his international rivals in action in Birmingham is a key part of his preparation for the Olympic Games this summer.
“I think it's great that some of the top Ethiopian and Ugandan athletes are going to be in Birmingham. It gives me an opportunity to see up close how they are racing and gauge their form."
In their only meeting so far this season, Farah convincingly beat Bekele over 5000m in Eugene on 2 June, and Bekele admits that in his quest to retain his Olympic titles, Farah is one of the key men that he will have to overcome.
“I am confident of defending my Olympic titles. Mo Farah is in good form this year and he is one of the athletes that will be very hard to beat this summer. I am looking forward to watching him run over the shorter 1500m distance in Birmingham too.”
UK Athletics Head of Endurance, Ian Stewart, also spoke enthusiastically about hosting some of the world’s top distance athletes at the Aviva 2012 Trials.
British 10,000m Olympic hopefuls lining up on Friday evening beside Bekele at the Birmingham Alexander Stadium will be aiming for the Olympic A standard of 27:45.00. British juniors will require 31:30.00 to qualify for the World Junior Championships in Barcelona in July.
The race is scheduled for 20:55 local time.
Organisers for the IAAF
2006 Evergreen Mutola