Men's 10,000 meter - Daegu Preview

Men's 10,000 meter - Daegu Preview

Provided by IAAF


Will Kenenisa Bekele defend his title? Can he defend it successfully? Could an athlete representing Great Britain win the World championships 10,000m?

There are many questions to be answered in the 25 laps of the men’s 10,000m in Daegu on 28 August. These are just some of the biggest ones.

First, it appears that Bekele will run, using his champion’s wild card and putting both his title and his undefeated record at 10,000m on the line. If indeed he does, it is an audacious move from a man who has not race since the beginning of 2010.

Winning will be a huge task. It would be his fifth in a row – one more than Haile Gebrselassie. Given the inevitable comparisons between these two great Ethiopian runners – arguably the two greatest-ever in world distance running history – it has to be pointed out that ‘Geb’ fell at the fifth hurdle in Edmonton in 2001. Will the same fate befall Bekele.

Finally, for these three questions anyway, a British athlete could win. Indeed, before Bekele’s announcement that he intends to run, Mo Farah was an overwhelming favorite, having won the biggest 10,000m of the year and gone undefeated at all other distances.

Alberto Cova of Italy won the 10,000m at the first World championships in Helsinki in 1983. Since, the winner has been either Kenyan (three times) or Ethiopian (the remaining eight).

Since Stuttgart in 1993, picking the winner has been even easier. Pick the current Ethiopian champion, and, bingo! Eight out of nine times you will have the winner: Gebrselassie four times, Bekele four times. With all due respect to Kenya’s Charles Kamathi, who won in Edmonton in 2001, the story was as much about Gebrselassie losing as him winning.

That could change with Farah. Even if he does not win, chances are that a non-African could take a medal for the first time since Italy’s Francesco Panetta (silver) and the German Democratic Republic’s Hansjorg Kunze (bronze) in Rome in 1987.

Besides Farah, whose 26:46.57 in winning at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene is the year’s fastest, names such as Ben St Lawrence (AUS),  Matt Tegenkamp and Galen Rupp (USA) and Juan Luis Barrios (MEX) figure among the leading contenders.

Farah beat a loaded field at ‘the Pre,’ including World Cross Country champion Imane Merga (ETH), 2009 silver medallist Zersenay Tadese (ERI) and World and Olympic silver medallist Sileshi Sihine (ETH). The race produced the 10 fastest times for the year to date.

The year’s other fast and deep race was also in America, at Stanford University in Palo Alto, where St Lawrence, Thompson, Tegenkamp and Barrios were all prominent.

Farah’s closing speed at both 5000 and 10,000 has been most impressive. Can he produce if off the staccato rhythm of a championship race? Yet another question.

Kenya’s representatives for Daegu all came out of the national championship race. Peter Kirui, a relative unknown, won then in 27:32.1, worth anything up to a minute faster given Nairobi’s mile-high altitude.

African champion Wilson Kiprop was second in 27:32.9, but has reportedly pulled out of the team due to injury. The other two representatives would then be Martin Mathati, bronze medallist in Osaka 2007 World Championships, and Paul Tanui.

Berlin silver medallist Tadese ran a sub-13 minute 5000m recently to back up his 26:51.09 behind Farah in Eugene. Sihine, sixth in that race in 26:52.84, is in the Ethiopian team along with Merga and Ibrahim Jeilan, the 2006 World junior champion, who ran 27:09.02 in Japan in June.

And what of Uganda’s Moses Kipsiro, ill early in the year, but now apparently healthy again.

All questions will be answered in Daegu.

Len Johnson for the IAAF