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Is he the Greatest of all Time? This speed machine Kenenisa Bekele

ATHLETICS By Waweru Titus | September 27th 2020
FILE - In this Friday, Aug. 20, 2004 file photo, Kenenisa Bekele, of Ethiopia, celebrates his gold medal during a victory lap after the 10,000m at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. [AP Photo/Thomas Kienzle, File]

Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge and Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele, who are arguably the two greatest marathon runners of all-time, will clash on October 4, 2020, in London.

The mass participation London Marathon was cancelled in August due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The race will take place on an enclosed looped course in St James’s Park in a secure biosphere, a contained safe environment like that of Formula 1 and England cricket, with performances eligible for Olympic qualification.

While Kipchoge and Bekele share a common statistic – being the only two marathoners to have completed the full 42-kilometre marathon course in under two hours two minute but their greatest common goal is to beat the other.

Who is Bekele?

Born June 13, 1982, he is an Ethiopian long-distance runner and the current world record and Olympic record holder in the 10,000-metre event and was the world record holder in the 5000-metre from 2004 until 2020.

He won the gold medal in both the 5000m and 10,000m events at the 2008 Summer Olympics. At the 2004 Olympics, he won the gold medal in the 10,000m and the silver medal in the 5000m.

He is the most successful runner in the history of the IAAF World Cross Country Championships with six long (12km) course and five short (4km) course titles.

He won the 10,000m title at the World Championships in Athletics in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009 (matching Haile Gebrselassie's four in a row win streak).

The superstar was unbeaten in the 10,000m races from his debut in 2003 until 2011 when he failed to finish at the World Championships final.

At the 2009 World Championships in Athletics, he became the first man to win both 5000m and 10,000m title at the same championships.

Over 5000m he has also won an Olympic silver (2004), World Championship bronze (2003), two African Championship titles and one All-Africa Games gold medal. He also won the 3000-metre title at the 2006 World Indoor Championships.

In  April 2014, he produced the sixth fastest marathon debut ever on a record-eligible course with his victory at the Paris Marathon, in a course record time of 2:05:04.

Bekele also won the Berlin Marathon in a time of 2:03:03 in 2016, a new personal best, then the third-fastest marathon of all time.

He won the Berlin Marathon in September 2019 in 2:01:41, the second-fastest time ever and just two seconds off of the world record set by Kenya’s Kipchoge on the same course the previous year.

The Ethiopian recently (March 2020) won the London half marathon in 60:22. He improved on the course record by 1:18 minutes formerly set by Mo Farah in 2019.

Marathon athletes (L-R) Eliud Kipchoge from Kenya, Kenenisa Bekele from Ethiopia and Wilson Kipsang from Kenya hold up their start numbers as they pose during a press conference in Berlin on September 22, 2017, to promote the Berlin Marathon to take place on September 24. [AFP PHOTO / dpa / Wolfgang Kumm]

Who stands a better chance?

While most would argue Kipchoge is a better runner on paper, Bekele poses a threat considering his feats in the short distance races.

According to the Running Magazine, Kipchoge and Bekele have met 20 times over all distances and surfaces, with the Ethiopian emerging victorious in 11 of their 14 meetings on the track.

However, Kipchoge’s greatness manifests in the long-distance races (marathons). The Kenyan has beaten Bekele in all four meetings.

Bekele's records 


·       Won Gold in the 10,000 metres in 2004 and a silver medal in the 5000 metres

·       He also won gold in the 10,000 metres in 2008 as well as gold in the 5000 metres

World Championships: 

·       Won gold in the 10,000 metres and bronze in the 5000 metres in 2003

·       Won gold in the 10,000 metres race in 2005, 2007 and 2009, as well as gold in the 5000 metres in 2009.

World Records: 

5,000 metres completed in 12:37.35, set in 2004. 10,000 metres gold 26:17.53 set in 2004. 

Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele runs during the Men's elite race at the London marathon on April 23, 2017 in London. [AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS]



·       Bronze in the 5000 metres in 2004

·       Silver in the same race in 2008. Gold in 2016 marathon 

World Championships

·       Gold in the 5000 metres in 2003.

·       Silver in the same race in 2007. 

World Records

Berlin Marathon (2:01:39) in 2018. 

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