Bekele serves early notice of intent for London 2012 with Great Ireland Run victory
Sunday, 15 April 2012
April 15 - Kenenisa Bekele, clocking the fastest 10 kilometres time in the world so far this year, easily beat a field including some of Europe's top distance runners to win the Great Ireland Run by a huge margin in Dublin.
Bekele (pictured), who has struggled with injuries over the last two years and after a lowly 11th finish at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country in January, answered any question marks that his career was in decline over a tough course in the Phoenix Park, where he recorded the first sub 28 minutes performance ever witnessed on Irish soil in a time of 27min 49sec at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Silver Label event.
The 29-year-old Ethiopian finished almost a minute ahead of Ayad Lamdassem of Spain, who clocked 28:48, with Italy's Daniele Meucci only a second behind.
Bekele, whose last visit to Ireland 10 years ago saw him earn an IAAF World Cross Country long and short course double, brushed away his rivals with a devastating display of front running which crushed their ambitions after only 3 kilometres.
At that point Lamdassem, strongly tipped to cause an upset and Meucci, the 2010 European 10,000m bronze medallist, seriously tried to test the reigning Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m gold medallist's supposed vulnerability, but he promptly blew away their challenges.
Bekele, although not an experienced road runner, immediately accelerated to open a 100 mreset gap which he continued to extend almost stride-by-stride over the testing course, which has a 3km uphill finishing stretch in the Phoenix Park.
"I wasn't nervous about coming here to run and I don't have anything to prove about my condition," said a very slim looking Bekele, who was almost 4kg overweight when competing at the Edinburgh Cross Country.
Bekele, playing down the quality of his world lead which bettered the 27:50 mark Kenya's Philip Yego set in Brunssum, Holland a fortnight earlier, added: "If there had been a pacemaker I would have been much quicker.
"How could I be expected to run a fast time?
"I had plenty of strength left in me.
"But the good news is that all of my training which has been based towards the track season has shown to be successful here also."
Bekele, who has yet to decide whether to defend both his Olympic crowns at the London 2012 Games in August, stressed he did not think his win would send out a serious warning about his shape and form to any of his rivals.
"This is not meant to be a message to any of my Olympic opponents," insisted Bekele, who will open his pre-Olympic campaign at the Samsung Diamond League meet in Doha on May 11.
"We cannot start talking like this until we all meet on the track in the summer."
The women's race was a much more evenly contested competition where Gemma Steel (pictured) reversed her defeat at the hands of fellow Briton Charlotte Purdue a year ago, when pulling away in the final kilometre.
Steel, the most improved British woman runner in 2011 when taking the scalps of the country's top stars including world marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe and Jo Pavey, claimed victory in 32:06.
The strength of the European Cross Country bronze medallist pulled her to a personal best as she denied 20-year-old and 4ft 11in Purdue – who also ran a lifetime fastest – a repeat win by four seconds with Christelle Daunay of France finishing third in 32:27.
"I had hoped I would do this, I finally shrugged her off – Charlotte just doesn't give in," said Steel, who along with fourth place finisher Helen Clitheroe in 33:02 has just returned from a warm weather training camp in Portugal.
"I've now finished ahead of every Briton that matters but it's the first time that I've beaten her.
"My spell in Portugal hasn't done me any harm."
The reigning English cross country title holder will travel today to Font Romeu in the French Pyrenees again with Clitheroe for a couple of week's altitude training.
Meanwhile, Purdue, who has been troubled by a foot injury and without a serious race this year, said: "I miss racing and competition of this standard and although I won in Chichester in February, the field wasn't that strong.
"Today was different and it's great to be back competing at this level."
April 2012: Triple Olympic champion Bekele heads stellar cast at Diamond League opener
January 2012: Exclusive - Bekele "played big part" in Ethiopian federation revoking ban
January 2012: Bekele, Dibaba and co free to run at London 2012 after Ethiopian Federation lift bans
January 2012: Exclusive - Let me run for another country, says Bekele after federation bans Ethiopians from London 2012
September 2011: With Radcliffe and Bekele returning to action how will the rest of the field rise to the challenge presented by their comeback?