Paul Tergat of Kenya, the winner of the 2005 ING New York City Marathon in the race’s closest finish has been named the recipient of the 2010 Abebe Bikila Award presented by New York Road Runners.
Tergat will be presented with the award before the start of the Continental Airlines International Friendship Run during ING New York City Marathon weekend on Saturday, 6 November.
The Abebe Bikila Award has been presented annually since 1978 to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the sport of distance running. It has a glittering list of past recipients, including Bill Rodgers, Alberto Salazar, Fred Lebow, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Grete Waitz, and Paula Radcliffe. Last year’s honoree was past NYRR president and CEO Allan Steinfeld.
Tergat claimed a place in ING New York City Marathon history in 2005 when he edged the 2004 champion, Hendrick Ramaala of South Africa, after a furious sprint to the finish line to win by three-tenths of a second. Tergat returned to New York in 2006 to finish third and in 2008 to place fourth.
Tergat once ruled the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, winning the title for five consecutive years (1995–1999), and in 1998 and 1999 also won the IAAF World Half Marathon on the roads. He is a two-time Olympic silver medallist at 10,000 metres, having finished behind Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie by narrow margins in both Atlanta in 1996 and Sydney in 2000. He took the silver medal in the 1997 and 1999 World Championships at 10,000 metres and in 2003 he set the World marathon record of 2:04:55 at the Berlin Marathon, a time that still makes him the fifth-fastest man in history.
Now 41, Tergat has been effectively retired from competitive racing since 2009 and has turned much of his effort to his work as a goodwill ambassador for the World Food Programme of the United Nations.
“The history of marathon running is incomplete without the solid and indelible mark of the late Abebe Bikila’s contribution, and I am so proud to be associated, through this award, with those who have continued his passion, commitment, and spirit to give marathon running and sports their worthy global prestige,” said Tergat. “Thank you for this recognition and honour. I dedicate this to all marathon lovers and to Kenya.”
“Paul is richly deserving of this honour in recognition of his great career as a champion on the race course as well as all of his humanitarian efforts off the course,” said NYRR president and CEO Mary Wittenberg. “It will be extra-special for Paul to be here this year to cheer as his most famous rival and now close friend Haile Gebrselassie runs our marathon for the first time.”