Sunday, August 17, 2008

Kenenisa Bekele Keeps Olympic 10,000 Meters Crown

Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele retained his Olympic title in the 10,000 meters, relying on a sprint to pull away from countrymen Sileshi Sihine. Bekele's time was 27:01.17. Micah Kogo of Kenya came in third for the bronze medal. Bekele, who set the world record for the distance in 2005, did not best that time today, but he did set a new Olympic record, beating the record he set in Athens in 2004.

(Official men's 10,000 meter final results.)

Bekele and Sihine took a victory lap with a third Ethiopian, running legend Haile Gebrselassie. Although Gebrselassie finished only sixth, his performance in this race helped set the pace for his compatriots. Gebrselassie was going for his third gold medal in the distance: he took gold in the 10,000 meters at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and the Sydney games in 2000.

Gebrselassie had originally planned on competing in the marathon (he holds the world record) as well as the 10,000. But he suffers from asthma and scratched the marathon from his plans due to concerns over the effects of Beijing's air pollution.

Surprisingly, the 35-year-old Gebrselassie said that Beijing would not be his last Olympics; he said he plans to run in 2012 in London, though he's not yet decided whether he will attempt the 10,000 or the marathon.

The top American in the 10,000 meters was Galen Rupp in 13th place at 27:36.99, a season's best for him.

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