DAEGU: Kenenisa Bekele will not defend his 5,000-meter title at the
world championships and instead concentrate on defending his
long-distance double at next year’s London Olympics.
His agent Jos Hermens said on Monday that the multiple world-record holder from Ethiopia would go back home and centre on core training again after he pulled out of Sunday’s 10,000 halfway through the race.
Bekele was looking for his fifth straight 10,000 world title to break a tie with former teammate Haile Gebrselassie. Bekele had been injured for most of the past two years and did not look fit Sunday. When he pulled out, it meant the end of a winning streak over the distance going back to 2003.
“This was a wake-up call for him,” Hermens said.
Hermens downplayed reports of a right hip injury on Sunday and said that the basic problem was a lack of training over the past two seasons because of long-term ailments.
“Over the past three years, he basically was able to train hard for only eight months,” he said.
For years now, Bekele and Gebrselassie have been in a friendly combat for the title of the world’s greatest distance runner, and Bekele did not want to get the world championships slip away without even trying to add another gold.
Until Sunday, he held the world and Olympic title and the world records at both the 5,000 and 10,000 meters. After he stepped out of Sunday’s race, Ethiopian teammate Ibrahim Jeilan seized the moment and won gold instead.
Bekele soon realized, though, that even with his superb talent, a lack of preparation would be evident against the season’s best in the 5,000, too.
“He is looking forward to next year,” Hermens said. “What happened here does not at all mean that that he won’t be in London.”
At 29, Bekele should still have a few good years ahead of him on the track if he stays healthy.
The trouble started last year when he ruptured a calf muscle and has since failed to come back to the circuit before he unexpectedly came to Daegu.
“That was not the best idea,” Hermens said of his participation in South Korea.
He said Bekele was still considering whether to run at the Van Damme Memorial in Brussels on Sept. 16.