skip to content
BEKELE Kenenisa

Kenenisa BEKELE

  • G 3
  • S 1
  • B 0

The son of a farmer, Kenenisa Bekele was inspired to begin running by the athletic feats of fellow Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie.

After setting a world junior record for the 3,000m in 2001, Bekele achieved his first senior success at the 2002 World Cross Country Championships in Dublin, where he became the first man to win the long and short races at the same championships. Bekele retained both titles in 2003 and again in 2004. At the 2003 World Championships of Athletics, Bekele won the 10,000m and finished third in the 5,000m. In the run-up to the Olympic Games in Athens, during a 10-day period, Bekele broke Gebrselassie's world records in both the 10,000m and the 5,000m.

Triumph over his idol

At the Games in Athens, he entered the 10,000m along with his idol, Gebrselassie, and a third Ethiopian, Sileshi Sihine. The Ethiopians took charge halfway through the race. When Gebrselassie began to fade, Bekele slowed down to allow him to catch up. Eventually Bekele and Sihine pulled away from the other runners, while Bekele finally drove to victory by running the last lap in 53 seconds, setting an Olympic record in the process. Eight days later, he faced 1,500m champion Hicham El Guerrouj in the final of the 5,000m. Bekele took the lead from Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya on the final lap, but with 60m to go, El Guerrouj caught him and won by two-tenths of a second, while Bekele won the silver medal.

Long- and short-distance double between 2002 and 2006

After the Athens Games, the Ethiopian prodigy continued to extend his reign over the international long-distance scene, winning the cross-country world championships every year except 2007. He even achieved the long- and short-distance double between 2002 and 2006. In 2005, Kenenisa suffered the pain of losing his fiancée, a long-distance runner like himself, during a training session. The champion managed to overcome his suffering, winning the cross-country and 10,000m world titles a few months later. It was the second of his three world titles over this distance.

Defending his title and setting a new Olympic record

When the Beijing Olympic Games opened, Kenenisa was the clear favourite in the long-distance events. On 17 August 2008, the Olympic stadium was ready to follow the 10,000m runners. The race turned out to be a tactical one, and Bekele had to control his numerous Kenyan and Ethiopian rivals. At the start of the last lap, he accelerated and continued his effort in the penultimate straight. Thanks to his acceleration, he created a good lead, and nobody could catch him. He beat the Olympic record, and kept the title he had earned four years previously. This was a feat that only the great names of athletics, such as Nurmi, Zatopek, Viren and Gebrselassie, have achieved before him. In Beijing, his compatriot and mentor, Haile Gebrselassie, finished sixth.

Leading the 5,000m right from the start

On 23 August, Kenenisa Bekela was on the starting line of the Olympic 5,000m event. He led the race from the very first kilometre. The other runners only caught him up after the finish line was crossed. Before celebrating his second Olympic title and a new Olympic record, he did not forget to congratulate his opponents. Kenenisa Bekele is not only a prodigy of middle-distance running, but also a great champion.



Image Alt Text

Olympics Day 15 Athletics Mens 5000m

BEIJING - AUGUST 23: Gold medal winner Kenenisa Bekele (C) of Ethiopia celebrates with countrymen Tariku Bekele and Abreham Cherkos after the Men's 5000m Final held at the National Stadium on Day 15 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 23, 2008 in Beijing, China.
Julian Finney/Getty Images
play ath 10000m m/2008_ath_10000m_m_,0200,0400,0600,1200,1800,.mp4.csmil/master.m3u8

Bekele Continues Domination and Takes Home the Gold

Kenenisa Bekele repeats as Olympic champion with an easy win in the Men's 10000m. The early part of the race is dictated by Eritrean Kidane Tadasse, but Bekele bides him time and takes charge with one lap to go, finishing in an Olympic record time of 27:01.17. His fellow countryman Sihine takes and silver in a repeat of the Athens top two. Athletics 10000m Men Final - Olympic Record (27:01.17) - Beijing 2008 - Kenenisa Bekele (ETH), Sileshi Sihine (ETH), Micah Kogo (KEN).
Image Alt Text

Mens 10000m Medal Ceremony

ATHENS - AUGUST 21: Bronze medalist Zersenay Tadesse of Eritrea celebrates on the podium during the medal ceremony of the men's 10,000 metre event on August 21, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in the Sports Complex in Athens, Greece. Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia came first and Sileshi Sihine of Ethiopia came second. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Zersenay Tadesse
Image Alt Text


Athens 2004-Athletics-10000 m-BEKELE (ETH) 1st, GEBRSELASSIE (ETH) 5th, SIHINE (ETH) 2nd.
Image Alt Text


Athens 2004-Athletics-10000m-BEKELE Kenenisa (ETH) 1st.
Image Alt Text


Athens 2004-Athletics-10000m-BEKELE Kenenisa (ETH) 1st, SIHINE Sileshi (ETH) 2nd, GEBRSELASSIE (ETH) 5th.


  • Games
  • G 12:57.82
    5000m men
    G 27:01.17
    10000m men
  • S 13:14.59
    5000m men
    G 27:05.10
    10000m men

back to top Fr