Kenenisa Bekele is quite simply a distance running icon. The first and only athlete to be crowned an Olympic, World outdoor, World Indoor and World Cross Country champion. The Ethiopian great has snared 21 global titles (including U20 titles) and shattered six world records during a glittering career.
Born in the Oromia region of Ethiopia, hotbed for so much of the world’s premier endurance running talent, the former footballer quickly enjoyed success as a runner. In 2001 he grabbed the World Junior Cross Country title and just 12 months later secured the senior short and long course double at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Dublin. His triumph in the Irish capital ushered in a period of global dominance on both track and cross country.
Kenenisa went on to secure a further nine World Cross Country titles as well as five World outdoor track titles and three Olympic crowns; winning 10,000m gold at the 2004 Athens Games and at the 2008 Beijing Games he became the first man since his countryman Miruts Yifter 28 years earlier to complete the 5000m and 10,000m double.
During this period of unprecedented distance dominance, he smashed six world records and still holds world record marks for the 5000m (12:37.35) and 10,000m (26:17.53).
In more recent times, Kenenisa has switched his focus towards the marathon and after an impressive debut over the distance in Paris, when he set a course record 2:05:03, he has continued to impress. Last year he scalped two minutes from his lifetime best to set an Ethiopian record of 2:03:03 and climb to all-time number two. Earlier this year he finished second in the London Marathon, crossing the line in 2:05:57 just nine second behind race winner Daniel Wanjiru. Kenenisa lives in Addis Ababa with his wife, Dannawit Gebregziabher, and three children.
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Kenenisa is also a passionate businessman and build a hotel and track in Suluta, just 10km outside of Addis Ababa.