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The 2002 Dublin World Cross Country Championships

The World Cross Country Championships, Dublin, Ireland was certainly a great place to be for one athlete. And that athlete was 19-year-old Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia.

The last really great Bikila, was the barefoot wonder who won the Olympic Games marathon on 2 occasions. Bekele the marathon runner was followed by Haile Gebrselassie and now we believe that following in their footsteps is the exceptional talent Kenenisa Bekele. At the staggeringly young age of 19, he has already made history by becoming the first athlete to do the ‘double’ at the World Cross Country Champs.

The ‘double’ needs an athlete to win the 4km short course title on Saturday, against the world’s best and then the following day come out and run the long course over 12km against the best the world has to offer.

This he did in great style, overshadowing all the performances that preceded his. And believe me, there were great performances in all the events before he carved his name in history.

The Sunday events that preceded Bekele’s magnificent performance was the women’s short course victory for a 34 yr old, prison arder from Kenya by the name of Edith Masai. Masai galloped to a convincing win against her East African rival, Kidane of Ethiopia. [ more ]

Earlier in the day, the large Irish crowd witnessed an amazing feat of determination when the Ethiopian, Gebre-egziable Gebremarian won the Junior Men’s race without the shoes he started with. Most athletes would have been put off from the task that lay ahead, however such is the focus and determination of this East African athlete, that he overcame all the odds to win against a strong Kenyan presence. [ more ]

On the first day of the Championships the outstanding performance, of the day, was no doubt Paula Radcliffe’s victory in the women’s long course race. She repeated her feat of the year before by winning from the American duo of Drossin and De Reuck, an ex-South African. [ more ]

Before this event, the women’s junior race won by the Kenyan, Viola Kibiwott. This after going slightly off course with the finish beckoning. [ more ]

And, as mentioned the first victory of Bekele in the men’s short course event. [ more ]

So in closing on the World XCountry Championships for the year 2002, let us pen the name of the star of the 2002 Championships, Kenenisa Bekele into our note books for the future. Long may he live up to his tremendous talent.

Paul Tergat’s views on the Kenyan performance
The 32-year-old Kenya Air Force sergeant, who won all the World cross country titles between 1995 and 1999, also had some food for thought for the Kenyan cross country team that took part in the World Cross Dublin, Ireland, last month. First and foremost, he said the team had over trained in Embu and were exhausted by the time they reached Dublin.

“I watched the 12-km race and the athletes were struggling. Their legs had no power. They needed time to recuperate after the heavy training,” he said. “I am happy they retained the overall team title for the 17th successive year but they were technically ill-prepared for the task,” he said.

Also while paying tribute to Kenenisa Bekele, the Ethiopian winner of 4-km and 12-km in Dublin for running well, Tergat disagreed with the sentiments of some Kenyan coaches that Bekele was too good and may dominate the event in future.

“That is a defeatist attitude. You shouldn’t let a guy win two titles like that in 24 hours. We are still the dominant cross country nation and our coaches should inject young talent and prepare them technically, physically and mentally.”

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