Kenenisa Bekele started out as a football player, but soon switched to running. The short Ethiopian was seen as the successor of Haile Gebrselassie. His first successes came in cross-country. From 2002 to 2006, he won both the short and long races at the International Cross-Country Championships, and with his sixth title in the long cross, he broke Paul Tergat’s record number of titles. But successes also came on the track. In 2004, he broke the world record in both the 5,000 and 10,000 m, and in 2003 he won his first world title in the 10,000 m, repeating in 2005 and 2007. At the Athens Olympics, he tried to win the 5 and 10k double, but after a win in the longest race, he was beaten by El Guerrouj in the 5,000. In Beijing, he again attempted to win both events, and succeeded with relative ease. Bekele’s greatest setback came in 2005, when his fiancé Alem Techale (a former World Youth Champion) died of heart failure while training with Bekele. He dedicated his three World Titles he won later that year to her memory.
Personal Bests: 5000 – 12:37.35 (2004); 10000 – 26:17.53 (2005).