Kenenisa Bekele is back and together with Tirunesh Dibaba won all four individual gold medals for Ethiopia in the senior races at the World Cross Country Championships. The 22 year-old Olympic 10,000 m champion became the star of the weekend in St. Galmier (France). In warm temperatures of more than 25° Celsius Kenenisa Bekele seemed to have found his way back into the sunny side of life. Shaken by the death of his fiancée at the beginning of January he had been out of form during the indoor season. But meanwhile the Ethiopian is back at his best. On day two of the championships he ran away from the rest of the field to win the 12.02 k race in 35:06 minutes. Bekele had a 14 second advantage to Zersenay Tadesse (Eritrea). Abdullah Ahmad Hassan (Qatar) took the bronze in 35:34. 19 year-old Tirunesh Dibaba then continued the Ethiopian win streak at St. Galmier by taking the shorts course title. She clocked 13:15 minutes for the 4.196 k race.
In the men’s long event Kenenisa Bekele and Kenya’s 5,000 m world champion from 2003, Eliud Kipchoge, ran side by side for parts of the race. Both injected some fierce pace into the race and were consequently on their own soon afterwards. “When I ran neck to neck with Kipchoge it was a difficult part of the race. But I believed my finish would be strong enough to win”, Bekele said. At the beginning of the final lap he stormed away on the horse racing track and left Kipchoge trailing.
The Kenyan soon was more than 20 metres behind and finally not even won a medal. Finishing fifth in 35:37 he was more than half a minute behind Bekele. Zersenay Tadesse had overtaken Kipchoge in the second half of the last lap. Then Abdullah Ahmad Hassan stormed past the shattered Kenyan on the homestraight to take the bronze medal. Being frustrated Kipchoge then let Abebe Dinkesa Negera (Ethiopia) slip past him just before the finish. „This is a great result for me. I did not expect to be able to win a medal here“, Zersenay Tadesse explained.
Kenenisa Bekele felt the race in Sunday was harder than that on the day before. He had won the 4.196 k event in 11:33 minutes and was five seconds ahead of Kenyan Abraham Chebii. “It was muddier today. And most of the other runners were fresher than me because they had not run yesterday”, Kenenisa Bekele said.
In the women’s events Tirunesh Dibaba followed in Kenenisa Bekele’s footsteps. She had already won the long distance race on Saturday. On Sunday Dibaba took the short course gold as well and earned another 30,000 US Dollars. She clocked 13:15 minutes for the 4.196 k distance. After a long sprint battle with Dibaba, who had been third in the Olympics’ 5,000 m final last year, Werknesh Kidane finished just a second behind. Tirunesh Dibaba had become the youngest individual World Champion in athletics history in Paris in 2003. She won the 5,000 m final at the age of 18. During this year’s indoor season the Ethiopian had broken the 5,000 m world record in Boston (14:32,93).