London - Distance running great
Kenenisa Bekele is to compete in the Great Ireland Run in Dublin on
April 15, organisers said on Tuesday, as part of his preparations for
the London Olympics.
Reigning Olympic 5 000m and 10 000m champion
Bekele finished way down the field in the three kilometre Great
Edinburgh Cross Country last month.
Bekele was one of 35 athletes
suspended from international competition by the Ethiopian Athletics
Federation after they failed to show up for a mandatory training camp.
the ban was rescinded just days after it was imposed and now Bekele is
set to return to the city of one of his greatest triumphs.
10 years ago, when aged just 19, that Bekele became the first and only
male athlete ever to lift the IAAF World Cross Country long and short
course titles in the same year, at Dublin's Leopardstown racecourse.
according to British former Olympic medallist Brendan Foster, of race
organisers Nova International, Bekele's decision to compete in the Great
Ireland Run, a 10 km event, could herald the start of a career as a
marathon runner after the 2012 Games.
"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," Foster said
"We have had some really big names including Paul 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 5 000m or 10 000m,
will be watching closely how he performs in Phoenix Park after his
Edinburgh setback," Foster added.
"This will be a very important race for Kenenisa and a good field is being pulled together to give him a real test.
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."