Kenenisa Bekele, the 2005 World Athlete of the Year, and Overall IAAF World Ranked number one, will make his 2006 debut on the track at the BW-Bank-Meeting in Karlsruhe, Germany, on 29 January 2006.
What is perhaps most intriguing about Bekele's upcoming appearance is that the two-time World and reigning Olympic champion at 10,000 metres will contest the 1500 metres, his senior debut at the distance.
In November 2005, Bekele's manager, Jos Hermens, hinted that his 23-year-old charge wanted to "try something different" during the upcoming indoor season. With another indoor middle distance race on his calendar - the Wanamaker Mile at the 99th Millrose Games in New York City on 3 February - Bekele's 2006 season is shaping into someting very new for the World record holder at 5000 metres, 10,000 metres and 5000 metres indoors.
While Bekele has succeeded his friend and mentor Haile Gebrselassie as World record holder, World and Olympic champion, the younger Ethiopian has yet to display the sweeping range of his predecessor. With his 3:31.76 performance from 1998, Gebrselassie is the second-fastest ever over the distance indoors, and won the 1999 World Indoor title in the event in 3:33.77, still the Championship record.
In New York, Bekele will face two-time Olympic medallist Bernard Lagat. The line-up for Karlsruhe which is an IAAF indoor permit meeting has yet to be announced but it may include another intriguing match-up, this time with reigning Olympic 5000m bronze medallist Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, the 2003 World champion at the distance. Organizers confirmed that Kipchoge will compete in Karlsruhe, either at 1500 or 3000 metres.
Bekele, the four-time double World Cross Country Champion, will make his first start of 2006 on Saturday (14 January), where he headlines a star-studded cast for the VisitScotland Great Edinburgh Cross Country in the Scottish capital.
A strong field in the Karlsruhe 1000 metres is also being assembled, led by Kenya's Daniel Kipchirchir Komen, currently the No. 1 World Ranked 1500 meter specialist, and French record holder Mehdi Baala.
World Indoor champion Jason Gardener of Great Britain is also slated to compete in the 60 metres where he'll face European indoor 200m champion Tobias Unger. Germany's Tim Lobinger, Danny Ecker and Björn Otto have been announced in the Pole Vault.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF