Kenenisa Bekele is one of several Ethiopian athletes entered for the 10,000m at the UK Olympic Trials
Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele will be looking to impress the selectors of the Ethiopian Olympic team when he competes in the 10,000m at the UK Trials this weekend.
The multiple world record-holder was originally believed to have been pre-selected for the Olympic team in that event, but having shown indifferent form – by his own lofty standards – in his handful of races this year, it is understood that Bekele has been asked to prove his form to guarantee his spot on the Olympic team.
Along with brother Tariku Bekele, he will be one of several Ethiopians lined up to compete as guests in the 25-lap race at Alexander Stadium on Friday.
“This race will be a great opportunity for me to compete against some of the best distance athletes and secure my place in the Ethiopian Olympic team,” said Bekele. “There are not many 10,000m races on the European circuit so I’m looking forward to an exciting battle in Birmingham. I am improving with every competition this season so I will be expecting to run a very fast race.
“I am confident of defending my Olympic titles,” he added. “Mo Farah is in good form this year and he is one of the athletes that will be very hard to beat this summer. I am looking forward to watching him run over the shorter 1500m distance in Birmingham too.”
Although world 5000m champion Farah will compete in the 1500m – the heats of which take place just half an hour before the 10,000m final on Friday – three of the fastest four Ethiopians in the world this year are among the invitees on the published entry lists for the longest track event, which concludes the action on the Friday night.
Former world indoor champion Tariku won the 10,000m in Hengelo last month, which was originally assumed to be the Ethiopians’ trial for the Olympics, although that no longer appears to be the case and many of the country’s top runners will be out to impress in Birmingham.
Sileshi Sihine, the silver medallist at the last two Olympics and both the 2005 and 2007 World Championships, is also in the field, along with Gebre Gebremariam, the 2009 world cross champion and former winner of the New York Marathon.
Double Commonwealth champion Moses Kipsiro of Uganda and Abera Kuma, the Ethiopian who was fifth in last year’s world championships, have also accepted invites.
Meanwhile the women’s race will feature Ethiopia’s Meselech Melkamu, the second-fastest woman of all-time over 10,000m, and Worknesh Kidane, the 2003 world silver medallist who won the women’s 10,000m at last year’s UK Championships.
The 10,000m races at the three-day championships are not official trial events, but the top British men’s entries include Keith Gerrard, John Beattie and James Walsh. It will effectively be two races with the leading Brits needing to improve markedly on their PBs to trouble the Olympic ‘A’ standard of 27:45.
In the women’s race Charlotte Purdue will be gunning for the ‘A’ standard of 31:45.00 having missed out twice this year.