Bekele and Dibaba to Double In Beijing, by Bob Ramsak, Track Profile, Notes by Larry Eder


In my mind, this is a problematic double in Beijing. Kenenisa Bekele doubled in St. Denis in 2003, and while he won the 10,000 in a masterful fashion, he had to deal with El Guerrouj and Eliud Kipchoge in a devastatingly fast 5,000 meters.

In my mind, there are few ways to defeat Bernard Lagat over 5,000 meters. Add in the Kenyans and Mr. Bekele has his hands full. Over 10,000 meters, Bekele is the class of the event. Just watching him solo a 10,000 in 26:25 in Eugene, Oregon was a treat enough! ( Thanks to John Capriotti and Jos Hermans for that one).

On the distaff side, Tirunesh Dibaba is the classic racer, but now, she has the 5,000 meter world record. I believe that she has to a) show up on the line, b) stay out of trouble, and c) keep it at 30:30 pace and kick and 15:00 and kick. Beijing will be a sweat bath, as well as all efforts will be multiplied. Dibaba is at the top of her form and she should, without must distress, take two gold medals in Beijing.


By Bob Ramsak
(c) 2008 TRACK PROFILE Report, all rights reserved

Bernard Lagat’s ambitious goal to succeed Hicham El Guerrouj as the Olympic 1500m and 5000m champion might have gotten even more difficult with today’s team announcement by the Ethiopian Olympic Committee (EOC). Despite earlier indications that he would only defend his 10,000m title in Beijing, the EOC included Kenenisa Bekele on its 5000m roster as well.

Less than two months ago, Bekele told reporters in Hengelo, The Netherlands, that a double was out of the question.

“It's very tough to run a double at the Olympics," he said. "I ran many kilometers in a few days in Athens, and I lost a lot of power."

Apparently Bekele has had a change of heart. The world record holder at both events and widely acknowledged as the finest distance runner of his generation, Bekele will be aiming to improve upon his showing over the shorter distance in Athens four years ago, where he finished runner-up to El Guerrouj.

History --neither Olympic nor his own-- will be on his side. Only Emil Zatopek (1952), Vladimir Kuts (1956), Lasse Viren (1972 and 1976), and Miruts Yifter (1980) have managed the long distance double on the world's biggest stage. Before Athens, Bekele attempted the double in 2003, the same summer he succeeded Haile Gebrselassie as world record in both events. After winning the 10,000, his first of three successive global titles over the distance, he took bronze in the 5000m.

- Doubling Dibaba

Tirunesh Dibaba was also named to the team in both the 5000 and 10,000, setting up an eagerly anticipated dual with compatriot Meseret Defar. The reigning Olympic 5000m bronze medallist, Dibaba managed the double at the 2005 world championships when she was still only 19. Last month broke Defar’s world 5000m record with a stunning 14:11.15, covering the final 3000m in a staggering 8:27.51. No woman has yet won both at an Olympic Games.

Also named to the team in the 10,000m was Gebrselassie, who will be making his fourth consecutive Olympic appearance in the event. The winner in 1996 and 2000, Gebrselassie finished fifth in Athens four years ago before turning his full attentions to the marathon, in which he currently holds the world record. Sileshi Sihine, the Olympic silver medallist and three-time silver medallist at world championships, will also contest the 10,000m.

Others announced include world indoor 3000m champion Tariku Bekele, Kenenisa’s younger brother, in the 5000m, and Derese Mekonnen, the world indoor 1500m champion, in the metric mile.


Published with permission of Bob Ramsak,

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