31 JAN 2007 General News

Valencia and Birmingham, the current extent of Bekele’s indoor ambitions

Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia on his way to gold in the men's 3000m final (Getty Images)Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia on his way to gold in the men's 3000m final (Getty Images) © Copyright

Kenenisa Bekele, who not forgetting his numerous cross country and outdoor track triumphs, is the 2006 World Indoor Championship gold medallist at 3000m and the reigning World indoor record holder for the 5000m, will embark on a spree of just two meets this indoor season, confirmed his management company today.

Last week, the 24-year-old Ethiopian was confirmed as an entrant over 1500 metres at the Reunión Internacional Ciudad de Valencia, Spain on 10 February, and today it was announced that he will run the 2000 metres in Birmingham, England, on the 17 February at the Norwich Union Grand Prix. Both meetings are part of the nine meeting IAAF indoor permit meet series in 2007.

To date Bekele has run only two 1500m races outdoors in his career, and Valencia will be his first outing indoors at that distance, though last year he finished second in the famous Wanamaker Mile at the Millrose Games in New York, a race which has a history dating back to 1926.

The Valencia meet will be very much a dress rehearsal for next year’s 12th IAAF World Indoor Championships in the city, but whatever Bekele’s long term plans to defend his 3000m World Indoor title it will be interesting to gauge his track speed after dominant cross country runs in both Edinburgh and Seville earlier this month.

The World and Olympic 10,000m champion’s return to Birmingham however gives us some statistical bench marks by which to judge his current form. In 2004, Bekele established a new World indoor 5000m record at the NIA stadium in a time of 12:49.60. Then after a brief hiatus in his success story (2nd Boston over 3000m and 2nd Birmingham over Two Miles) during his 2005 indoor campaign which followed the tragedy of his fiancé’s sudden death from a heart condition, Bekele returned successfully to Birmingham last year running close to the World indoor best for Two Miles (8:05.12).

“I feel ready to run a fast time in Birmingham, and of course I will be pleased if I can set another World (indoor) record (best),” confirmed Bekele. “I'm pleased with my form at the moment – 2007 has started well for me in the cross-country, and I want to continue with that success indoors too.”

“I always enjoy racing in Birmingham, as I have done well there in the past.  The Birmingham crowd always gives lots of support, so I am looking forward to running in front of them again.”

Chris Turner for the IAAF