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IAAF.org: Senior Mens races - World Cross Country Championships - PREVIEW

17.03.2004

When you establish a sporting reputation as quickly and as supreme as has Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele since 2001, it should come as no surprise that your rivals will focus all their attentions on knocking you back down to size. There is nothing unfair about it, it is just a reality of life.

Bekele versus the world

Therefore at this weekend’s 32nd IAAF World Cross Country Championships, Brussels, Belgium, the distance running world will be divided into two camps, Bekele and the rest of the world.

Bekele, the reigning double short and long course champion is entered for both races in Brussels, and while the annual question of whether or not he will actually run both distances is again in the air, the more interesting topic in this Olympic year is the 21 year-old’s growing invincibility on all surfaces.

Should the World 10,000m champion stride around Brussels’ Park Van Laken in the same confident manner as he did twelve months before at the Avenches course at Lausanne – La Broye, then the world’s best distance runners might as wellcrown Bekele with the Olympic laurels at the same time.

One race or two for Bekele in Brussels, it really doesn’t matter. The Kenyans, Tanzanians, Moroccans and perhaps even Bekele’s illustrious Ethiopian team-mates must now be aware that another soul destroying victory in Brussels would at the very least tighten the World indoor 5000m record breakers’ psychological grip over the Olympic Games with just five months to go before Athens.

Unless injury intervenes - and Bekele has been prone to Achilles problems in the past - Brussels is perhaps the last redoubt for the rest of the world as it tries to repel his Olympic assault.


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