23 MAR 2002 General News

Victory sees Bekele ready to take Dublin at the double

Victory sees Bekele ready to take Dublin at the double
Steven Downes for the IAAF
23 March 2003 - Dublin, Ireland – With a “kick” at the bell worthy of a track race, Kenenisa Bekele, from Ethiopia, seized the initiative in the men’s short race at the IAAF/Sport Ireland World Cross Country Championships to run away from a posse of rivals on Saturday. 

The final lap in this instance was not a mere 400 metres of flat rubber, but nearly two kilometres of muddy grassland at Leopardstown racecourse. Yet the in-form Ethiopian, made good use of the downhill stretch at the start of the lap, and a strong following wind, to build an unassailable lead from his clutch of pursuers, led by Luke Kipkosgei, of Kenya.

Bekele, aged 19, won the 4km race easing up in 12min 11sec, to add to the junior gold and short-race silver he won over the course of the weekend at last year’s championships in Ostend, Belgium.

The teenage phenomenon then confirmed that he would be racing again on Sunday, in the 12km classic long race, attempting a golden double that no man has yet managed to achieve.

“I am very happy to complete the first half of what I hope will be a double this weekend,” Bekele said. “I felt very comfortable today and in fact I eased back towards the end to save myself for the long race.

“I am disappointed we did not win the team, but for me this weekend is all about winning two individual gold medals,” said Bekele, who is advised on his training by Haile Gebrselassie.

Kipkosgei took the silver medal here in 12:18, with Ethiopia’s Hailu Mekonnen third in 12:20. Both runners agreed that the course is a tough one, and was made tougher still by the strong wind in the face of the runners as they worked up the long uphill towards the finish.

Australia’s Craig Mottram produced an impressive effort to latch on to the lead group and finish fifth, and first non-African, as Kenya took the team title for the fifth successive year.