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Bekele wins fourth world XC double


Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele has made history as the first athlete ever to win both long and short course men's titles for the fourth successive year.

The IAAF 2004 male athlete of the year picked up a whopping 30,000 USD for winning the Men’s Long Race at the 33rd edition of the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in St-Etienne/St-Galmier.

Bekele was simply untouchable from the beginning of the sixth lap of this 12km long race and won comfortably in 35.06.

Earlier yesterday, the 22-year-old Ethiopian hero won his fourth short race title, and thus matched the record 13 world individual and team golds by Kenyan legend Paul Tergat.

He has now increased his total medal haul from both individual and team titles at these Cross Country championship to 21 – the highest by any athlete. Closest to him in the all time career medal list are compatriots Werknesh Kidane (20 medals) and Gete Wami (19 medals).

Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist Zersenay Tadesse of Eritrea was second (35:20) with Qatar’s Abdullah Ahmad Hassan taking the bronze (35:34).

"The race was harder and muddier than yesterday," Bekele said, "and the other competitors were fresher than me, because they hadn't run yesterday.

"I expected my strongest rivals to be Kipchoge and Tadesse. Running neck and neck with Kipchoge was a very difficult part of the race, but I believed my finish would be strong enough to win today."

'Grief and Joy'

Refering to the recent loss of his fiancee, whom he was due to marry on May 8, Bekele "praised God for what he gives, the good and the bad.

He said: "These victories are more significant in my eyes than the previous ones, because in the past I had my fiancée with me, encouraging me.

"This double means more than the others put together. For me this is the greatest, because this year I was in mourning. I spent the other years happy with my friend and lover by my side. I did this with grief and joy trading places in my heart, so this is much more significant.

"In the past I faced my competitions as two people, with Alem, my friend, by my side, encouraging and supporting me. I feel now, after losing her, as if I am naked and facing these competitions alone. So to have achieved this after such a short time, I truly thank God."

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33rd IAAF World Cross Country Championships

Ethiopian Athletics


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Last updated: 27-Mar-2005 8:08 PM

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