After claiming first in the 10,000 meter race at the 2009 World Championsips on 17 August, Kenenisa Bekele snagged the gold in the 5000 today. In doing so, the Ethiopian champion duplicated his own accomplishment one year ago at the Beijing Olympics. What an achievement!
Bernard Lagat, a great champion in his own right, pushed Mr. Bekele on the home stretch, but suddenly, Mr. Bekele surged even faster over the final 20-30 meters. If Mr. Bekele is not in a class by himself among distance runners, he is in a very small one that includes runners like Emil Zátopek, Lasse Virén, and Haile Gebrselassie.
After pushing Mr. Bekele in the 5000 and with a quality of sportsmanship that others should emulate, here’s Mr. Lagat’s assessment:
“Kenenisa has really everything that it takes to be a champion. I would love to be like him. He is really great and I presume we will have to wait for a long time before we will see another runner like him in the future. Kenenisa is one of the greatest athletes of all time,” said Bernard Lagat.
“It is nice to run with him in such a great final. We have both given really everything we had on the homestraight – he won gold and I won the silver. It is good running against him because he gets out the very best of me.”
Because of his Olympics victories and because he holds the world and Olympic records in both events, Mr. Bekele certainly would have been expected to take medals. Still, there is the doing of the thing. So many events can occur, causing a runner to finish one or many places lower than first.
For the 2009 World Championships, Mr. Bekele’s superb performance doesn’t take anything away from Usain Bolt’s stunning pair of world record runs (plus his third leg in the 4×100 relay), nor does it overshadow Anita Wlodarczyk’s world record in the hammer throw.
Questions for fun:
- Can Mr. Bolt go below 19:00?
- Will Mr. Bekele be able to double again?
- Can Mr. Bekele lower either of his world records?
- Will Mr. Bekele switch to the marathon and be the first to finish that distance in under 2 hrs?
Read the IAAF press release about Mr. Bekele’s double; it’s the one from which I drew the quote by Mr. Lagat.
Update 8:00 PM -4 GMT: I’m feeling a little better about my comments after reading Philip Hersh’s “Berlin Wall concrete for Usain Bolt, gold for Bekele and fewer medals for Team USA” from the Los Angeles (CA, US) Times. Mr. Hersh celebrates Mr. Bolt’s achievements, and then explains why one must consider Mr. Bekele’s in context. (He also talks about context for the team competition.) It’s worth reading.