Kenya’s World 3000m record holder Daniel Komen, will lead the Kenyan challenge in the TOTAL Great Ethiopian Run, Africa’s largest road race, which will take place in Addis Ababa on 3 November 2002.
However, the organising committee has been dealt a blow by the news that Germany’s 1992 Olympic 5000m champion Dieter Baumann has withdrawn from the race, with less than two weeks to go.
Confirmation of Komen’s participation is a major boost for the fledgling event which is only in it’s second year.
Komen is their biggest signing to date, as the 28-year old is a familiar name to the local public because he is the last athlete at the distance of 5000m to have beaten Ethiopia’s national hero Haile Gebrselassie, the two-time Olympic and four-time World 10,000m champion.
Gebrselassie, who finished a tired third in the 2001 Edmonton World Championship 10,000m final (27:54.41) but then made a remarkable Marathon debut in London last April in an Ethiopian record of 2:06:35 - again ‘only’ finishing third -, will be in Addis Ababa to give his support to the Great Ethiopian Run. However, though Gebrselassie is back in full training after sustaining an injury during his Marathon debut, it is not thought he will seriously contest the Run in the Ethiopian capital.
The Ford/Land Rover Kenyan Challenge team also includes veteran Paul Bitok and newcomer Albert Chepkurui. Bitok, who is 32-years-old is a two-time Olympic 5000m silver medallist, and was crowned African 5000m champion in Tunis this summer. At 23, Chepkurui is a relative newcomer to the Athletics scene with sixth-place finishes in the World Cross Country Championships in 2001 and 2002.
Unfortunately, the organizers have confirmed that former Olympic 5000m champion Dieter Baumann has withdrawn from the competition. The 37-year old German had agreed to take part in the race early in September, setting up a enticing encounter with Ethiopia’s Fita Bayissa, the athlete he beat at the Barcelona Olympics ten years ago.
According to Race Director Richard Nerurkar, there will still be the prospect of an exciting duel between Bitok and Bayissa, the athletes who finished second and third respectively in the 1992 Olympic final, behind Baumann.
Elshadai Negash for the IAAF