Bekele to run in Phoenix Park


Athletics:Double Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele has been confirmed to take part in the Spar Great Ireland Run in the Phoenix Park on April 15th as he continues his build-up to the London Games.

The 29-year-old Ethiopian runner returns to the city 10 years on from becoming the first, and only, male athlete to lift the IAAF World Cross Country long and short course titles in the same year with two magnificent performances at Leopardstown racecourse.

Bekele, the reigning 5,000 and 10,000 metres Olympic champion, has struggled for his best form to date this season, but after a lacklustre performance at the Edinburgh Cross Country in January he vowed to quickly get back into mint condition.

Former Olympic medallist Brendan Foster, whose company organises the Dublin event, believes Bekele can follow in the footsteps of fellow Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie and Kenya's Paul Tergat who in translating an illustrious cross country and track career into top-class marathon running.

“I was delighted when Bekele’s agent Jos Hermens rang me and asked whether we could find a slot in the Spar Great Ireland Run for him and of course there was no way I was going to say 'no' to such an outstanding legend,” said Foster.

“We have had some really big names including Tergat and Bekele’s own countrywoman Derartu Tulu, arguably the greatest women’s distance runner of all time, grace the event since the first Dublin race in 2003.

“Now to have Bekele ask to take part in a race which has grown in stature year on year is a compliment to its reputation and quality and I know from speaking with his manager he is determined to prove his shape after a setback at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country in January."

“Everyone, particularly Mo Farah and other Olympic rivals for a gold medal in either the 5000m or 10000m, will be watching closely how he performs in the Phoenix Park after his Edinburgh setback.

"This will be a very important race for Kenenisa and a good field is being pulled together to give him a real test. He’s raced sparingly on the roads in the past so I’m certain it will also be important in his plans to move his career into a different direction after the London Games.”