Profile Born in Bekoji, Ethiopia, Kenenisa Bekele is a recent ambassador of a formidable tradition of Ethiopian distance runners and an Olympic champion in the 10000m.
Kenenisa comes from a humble background. Raised on the Ethiopian farmland, he enjoyed running and admired the nationís superstar and icon Haile Gebrselassie, the acclaimed distance runner who was known the world over. Little did Bekele know, that he would one day follow in the footsteps and even become the successor to his idol. Gebrselassie, who took the Olympic gold in the 10,000m in 1996 and in 2000 became a mentor for budding star Bekele. In 2003, the succession was complete when Bekele beat Gerbrselassie to win the world title in the 10,000m in Paris, France.
In the months leading up to the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, Bekele had himself formally crowned as the king of the long distances by improving Gebrselassieís records in both the 5000m and 10,000m. He won an Olympic gold in the latter distance in Athens, quietly building up his race before turning on the afterburners in the final lap and obliterating the rest of the field. In the 5000m, he was also the favourite but he was upset by Hicham El Guerrouj, who was more renowned as a middle distance runner. At the 2005 and 2007 World Championships, Bekele, famous for his very fast last lap, retained his title in the 10,000m, once again proving that Gebrselassieís and the Ethiopian national legacy are safe with him. He confirmed this at the Beijing Olympic Games winning gold in the 5000m and 10000m races and becoming the first athlete since 1980 to complete this Olympic double.
Besides his success on the track, Bekele has also been very successful in Cross Country winning the World Cross-Country Championships short race and long race double five years in a row.