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Bekele storms to 10000m gold
Tony Lawrence in Athens |
August 21, 2004 02:09 IST
Last Updated: August 21, 2004 02:27 IST
Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele sealed his reputation as both the present and future of long-distance running when he won the Olympic men's 10,000 metres on Friday, leaving his mentor Haile Gebrselassie to finish fifth.
The 22-year-old Bekele, who had already dethroned Gebrselassie as world champion last year, produced a withering burst on the final lap to win in 27 minutes 5.10 seconds and take his compatriot's Olympic crown as well.
Silver went to their team mate Sileshi Sihine, just over four seconds back, with Zersenay Tadesse of Eritrea taking bronze in 27:22.57.
Bekele, Gebrselassie and Sihine then celebrated the result of the first track final at the Olympic stadium with a joint lap of honour before being engulfed by their supporters.
Yet despite the smiles, the race was a sad Olympic farewell for Gebrselassie.
The 31-year-old won the event in 1996 and 2000 but any lingering hope of an unprecedented third title faded before the Games when he injured an Achilles tendon.
Still suffering but determined to help his younger team mates by taking painkillers, he barely warmed up before the start.
Bekele led early then allowed the field to bunch again until Gebrselassie suddenly surged to the front with 18 laps to go.
The three Ethiopians exchanged the lead constantly, ratcheting up the pace so that the lead group was down to seven by halfway.
Bekele, eyes down as if in a trace, floated across the track. Gebrselassie, however, was suffering and looked increasingly ragged.
With 11 laps to go Bekele injected another burst, allowed the front bunch to merge back together, then exchanged words with Sihine.
The pair suddenly attacked and burst clear before Bekele made the gold his own.
As his younger team mates ran around the stadium to celebrate further, Gebrselassie was left alone in the centre of the stadium, limping.