Beijing 08
Bekele becomes distance king
The Ethiopian becomes the first man since 1980 to win the 5,000m and 10,000m double.
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2008 14:20 GMT

Kenenisa Bekele, left, set a cracking pace in the 5000m [GALLO/GETTY]
Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele outsprinted his rivals with a stunning last lap to win the 5,000 metres and become the first man to complete the Olympic long-distance double since 1980.

The 26-year-old, who retained his 10,000 title last Sunday, raced home in an Olympic record time of 12 minutes 57.82 seconds to give Ethiopia a sweep of all four distance titles after Tirunesh Dibaba completed the women's double on Friday.

It was a first major 5,000m title for the world record-holder and matched the feat last achieved by his compatriot Miruts Yifter in Moscow 28 years ago and never managed by another Ethiopian great, Haile Gebreselassie.

Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge, who denied Bekele a world championship double in Paris in 2003, was unable to follow the leader when he broke for home and finished well adrift in 13.02.80.

The 24-year-old's compatriot Edwin Cheruiyot Soi took bronze in 13.06.22, while American Bernard Lagat, whose kick was enough to win him the world title last year, found the pace just too quick and trailed in ninth.


Bekele, who won silver in Athens four years ago, was never going to allow a slow pace on Saturday despite the heat and humidity and he raced into the lead after the first half a lap.

He remained at the front guarded by his brother Tariku and the third Ethiopian, Abreham Cherkos, with the two Kenyans and Lagat tucked in behind.

When the field stretched out with three laps to go, Lagat and the two other Ethiopians faded leaving a straight race between Bekele and the Kenyans.

Bekele kicked at the bell and, glancing frequently behind him, had a 10-metre advantage over Kipchoge midway through the back straight which he extended to 30 by the time he crossed the line.

Although outside his world record of 12:37.35, Bekele's time was good enough to beat the previous Olympic mark of 13:05.59 set by Morocco's Said Aouita when he won gold in 1984.

Kenyan-born Lagat, 33, won the 1,500m and 5,000m double at last year's world championships but failed to reach the final of the shorter race in Beijing.

Topics in this article
Featured on Al Jazeera
Indonesia's digerati could be crucial to success in the country's upcoming presidential election.
How Brazil's football legend turned every Corinthians' match into a political meeting for democracy.
As the Pakistani army battles Taliban forces, civilians in North Waziristan face an arduous escape for relative safety.
Nepalese trade in a libido-boosting fungus is booming but experts warn over-exploitation could destroy ecosystem.
Israel's strategy in Gaza remains uncertain, as internal politics are at play for PM Netanyahu.
Greece is holding as many as 6,000 migrants in detention centres, in conditions that have been called appalling.
Long derided for trivialising women, Bollywood is shrugging off its trademark social apathy by upping anti-rape crusade.
Survey of more than 300 colleges shows 40 percent do; highlights lack of training for administrators, law enforcement.
Three years after independence, South Sudan still struggles to escape poverty and conflict.
join our mailing list