Gold Standard: The Men's 10,000m

Can mighty Mo Farah cross the line first in Saturday night's 10,000m showdown?

by Alison Hamlett

Kenenisa Bekele
Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele enjoys a win in Beijing. Picture credit: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Ethiopian legend and current world record holder over 10,000m, Kenenisa Bekele joined Farah on the start line in Daegu. He hadn’t raced since 2009 due to injury and despite his obvious natural talent, plus his three Olympic gold medals and 16 world titles, Bekele simply wasn’t in good enough shape to challenge the world’s best. He failed to finish the race, leaving the way clear for another of his countrymen, Imane Merga, to clinch the bronze.

Back in Beijing in 2008 it was a different story. Bekele demonstrated what he is capable of when fully fit. He won the 10,000m in a time of 27:01.17 to set a new Olympic record, and he also won the 5,000m, setting a new Olympic record over that distance too. Bekele’s story is proof that natural talent alone isn’t enough to become the best in the world: training is the key. And that’s true whether you’re the world-record holder or attempting your first 10K this summer.  

While Bekele might be struggling to make the grade, there are plenty of other African runners who could shine in London this summer, including his long-standing rival Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea. The former World Cross-Country Champion finished the 10,000m in Daegu just outside the medals in fourth.

Kenyan Leonard Patrick Komon, who holds the men’s 10K world record of 26:44, set in 2010 in Utrecht, Netherlands, could also impress, and his countryman Micah Kogo also knows how to turn it on for big races. He took bronze at the 10,000m in Beijing, finishing in 27:04.11 and won the inaugural Bupa 10,000 in 2008 so he’s no stranger to success in London.

Galen Rupp of the USA, who is also coached by Farah’s coach Salazar, could also do well after a great year in 2011. He finished seventh in the 10,000m in Daegu and set a new North, Central America and Caribbean record of 26:48.00 over 10,000m in Brussels last September – that’s just two seconds slower than Farah’s European record. 

On the next page: Impress your friends with the Olympic 10,000m in numbers.

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