by Mark Rodden
Article published on the 2009-07-16 Latest update 2009-07-17 11:47 TU
Kenenisa Bekele arrived in Paris this week hoping to significantly boost his bank balance later this year. A one-million-dollar jackpot is on offer for athletes who win an event at all six Golden League meetings during the season and, at the halfway stage, Bekele is the last man standing.
Three women - Kerron Stewart in the 100 metres, Sanya Richards in the 400 metres and record-breaking pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva – are also in the running for the prize.
Bekele missed the cross-country and indoor seasons through injury but wins at Golden League meetings in Berlin, Oslo and Rome suggest he is nearing his best form again.
At Friday’s event in the French capital though, the Olympic champion and world-record holder over 5,000 and 10,000 metres will be presented with a different challenge. Unlike the previous meetings this year, there is no 5,000 metre race in Paris. Instead Bekele will have to win over 3,000 metres if his pursuit of the jackpot can continue.
This means Bekele should face stiff competition from Kenyan-born US athlete Bernard Lagat at the Stade de France, but the 27-year-old is not too disappointed at having to run over a shorter distance.
“I don’t want to run every week 5,000 metres,” Bekele said on Thursday. “I’m feeling good, I’ve prepared well and my condition is really good. I think I will have a good result tomorrow.”
When it comes to athletes as consistently groundbreaking as Bekele, it’s inevitable that questions about world records will come up. The news that Bekele’s manager, Jos Hermens, requested that a number of fast pacemakers be included in Friday’s line-up suggests his race will be worth watching.
“I will try to break a record,” Bekele said. “If a record is not [possible] maybe I can run my personal best. But to run a personal best, it’s not easy. My personal best is 7:25 so I will see tomorrow.”
After Friday’s race, Bekele will return to Ethiopia to continue his preparations for the World Championships in Berlin next month. Chances are he’ll be leaving Paris with a million other things on his mind as well.
2008-08-26 17:13 TU
2008-08-18 08:58 TU