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2004 Olympic Games Athens - Men's 10000 m



Host City: Athina, Greece Format: Final only.
Date Started: August 20, 2004  
Date Finished: August 20, 2004  
(Competitors: 24; Countries: 14)  
    Venue(s): Olympic Stadium, Athens Olympic Sports Complex Spiros Loues, Maroussi
Overview by IAAF    2004-athens-stadium.jpg
Having broken Gebrselassie’s world record with 26:20.31 earlier in the season, Bekele was the hot favourite. For the first nine laps of the race the pace sedately flowed at 69s per lap, with no-one willing to challenge the Ethiopians. Then Bekele and his teammates injected laps of 64.4/63.4/64.5 before Bekele added circuits of 61.4 and 62.0, and only Korir and Mosop stayed with the pace. The Kenyans were burned off with a lap of 60.6, and by 7Km Tadese and Kiprop were the only interlopers in touch with the Ethiopians. The pace dropped in the eighth kilometre when Bekele and Sihine deliberately slowed in a vain attempt to help the struggling defending champion Gebrselassie. A 22nd lap of 61.8 dropped all but Sihine, who stayed on Bekele’s heels until the last lap. Bekele then showed why he is so highly regarded, with a smooth sprinting action, covering the penultimate 200m in a staggering 25.7 seconds, and winning by over four seconds after a scintillating last lap of 52.9 seconds. Bekele covered the first half in 13:51.5, and the second in 13:13.6.
Summary by      
After winning the World Championships four consecutive times (1993-99), Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie had come back to the field slightly by 2004. He had finished third at the 2001 Worlds, and in 2003, placed second to his countryman, Kenenisa Bekele. Bekele had also won the International Cross-Country from 2002-2004, and had broken Geb’s world record earlier in 2004 and was favored in Athens. After seven laps, the Ethiopians (including Sileshi Sihine) took off and forced the pace. On the 22nd lap, Bekele and Sihine had dropped the other runners, but on the final lap, Sihine had no match for Bekele’s speed. Bekele ran the final lap in 52.9 seconds, and the final 200 in 25.7 to win the gold medal.


Prior to the competition, the existing World and Olympic records were as follows.

World record  Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) 26:20.31 Ostrava, Czech Republic 8 June 2004
Olympic record  Haile Gebreselassie (ETH) 27:07.34 Atlanta, United States 29 July 1996

The following records were established during the competition:

Date Event Name Nationality Result Record
20 August Final Kenenisa Bekele Ethiopia 27:05.10 OR


The qualification period for athletics was 1 January 2003 to 9 August 2004. For the men's 10000 metres, each National Olympic Committee was permitted to enter up to three athletes that had run the race in 27:49.00 or faster during the qualification period. If an NOC had no athletes that qualified under that standard, one athlete that had run the race in 28:06.00 or faster could be entered.

The men's 10,000 metres at the 2004 Summer Olympics as part of the athletics program were held at the Athens Olympic Stadium on August 20. No preliminary rounds were held at this distance, since the number of competitors allowed a direct final.

The Ethiopians were in control throughout the distance. A leading group of five runners crystallized. As Kenenisa Bekele and Sileshi Sihine turned up the pace with two kilometres left, Zersenay Tadese, Boniface Kiprop Toroitich and reigning Olympic champion Haile Gebrselassie, who was running with a calf injury, were not able to keep up. Bekele, the world record holder, assured his victory with a brilliant Olympic record finish (27:05.10 minutes), completing the final 400 metres in less than 54 seconds.
20 AUG 2004 General News Athens

Men's 10,000m Final

The gold medal may have stayed in Ethiopia’s hands but the men’s 10,000m final signalled the end of an era this evening as Haile Gebrselassie’s reign as the greatest distance runner in the world came to a sad but heroic end in the Athens Olympic stadium. Despite the best efforts of his young training partners and team-mates, Kenenisa Bekele and Sileshi Sihine, to help him back into the race, for the first time in his distinguished international career Geb simply could not stay with the kind of lethal pace that has been his own trademark for so long.

When the decisive moments came it was Bekele and Sihine who split away from the field, shaking off their final challengers with almost nonchalant ease at 9k. And it was Bekele who proved to be stronger at the finish. Unleashing a devastating kick with 500m to go, he blasted through a 53.02 second last lap to finish with an Olympic record 27:05.10, some 2.24 seconds quicker than the time Gebrselassie ran in Atlanta eight years ago. Sihine took silver in 27:09.39 and Zersenay Tadesse was the surprise bronze medallist, clocking a national record of 27:22.57, becoming Eritrea’s first ever Olympic medallist.

Gebrselassie’s track career came to an end with a fifth place finish, and a time of 27:27.70, more than two seconds behind Uganda’s Boniface Kiprop. But none of that comes close to telling the story of this extraordinary race, one in which the two Ethiopian medallists even put their medals at risk to try and help their elder team-mate and former master back into contention.

As so often in championships finals, the race started at a slow pace, with leaders passing the first kilometre in 2:50.85 and the second kilometre in 5:45.16. At this point Gebrselassie was way back in the middle of the large pack – some 24 athletes started the final.

Clearly, the ‘little Emperor’, who has been suffering from Achilles problems in recent weeks and almost didn’t enter the race, realised this was never going to help him to his third Olympic gold. He swept to the front with a quarter of the race gone and injected some much needed pace. Suddenly the field was spread out and the Ethiopians initiated their usually flawless team tactics, attempting to burn off the rest of the field by the simple attrition of their superior speed.

Sihine, then Bekele, then Geb again, took their turns at the front. They went through 4k in 11:15.57 at which point Bekele upped the speed another notch. By 5k (13:50.87) the leading group was down to seven, with Kenya’s Moses Mosop and John Korir, plus Kiprop and Tadesse still in the hunt.

Kiprop made a move at 6k (16:34.51) but Bekele would not relinquish the lead. His spurt of pace left the two Kenyans trailing and it seemed to be all down to five. By this stage Gebrselassie was not looking his usual comfortable, smooth self and looked as though he was struggling to hang on.

Within 200m that proved to be the case as he visibly raised his head and, it appeared, the white flag of surrender. Never had we seen him lose touch with so much of a race still to go. You could almost hear the gasps from the stands, and cries of ‘Come on Haile’ echoed even from the press stands as people willed an era not to end just yet. But Gebrselassie is not one to give up.

Amazingly, Bekele and Sihine seemed to heed the calls. Glancing at the giant screen they realised their ‘Gashe’ was no longer in touch and turned round, slowing the pace to let him and Tadesse catch up, and giving the Eritrean a second chance to challenge for victory.

However, by 9k (24:37.19), it was clear, even to them, that Gebrselassie’s legs had gone. Looking to ensure the medals, they kicked again. Within a lap they had taken 15 metres out of Tadesse and Kiprop, leaving Geb another 20m behind. The only question was which one would have the greater finish, and Bekele answered that in the most devastating fashion.

He flew through the bell in 26:13, sprinting like a 400m man and no doubt sending a significant message to his rivals in next weekend’s 5000m final. Who could live with that sort of finish? Even Hicham El Geurrouj might struggle.

The two Ethiopians waited for Gebrselassie at the finish and the three embraced before the elder statesman allowed his two heirs elect to lead the lap of honour. Looking visibly shattered, Geb put his hands to head in a gesture of resignation before the biggest smile in athletics broke out once more.

The large and noisy contingent of ecstatic Ethiopian fans who were camped at the start of the final bend mobbed their heroes. The end of an era, but another national triumph all the same.

Thanks Haile. Hail Bekele.

10000 m Men     Final 20 August      
Rank Mark     Athlete Country NOC Birth Date Records
1 27.05.10     Kenenisa Bekele Ethiopia ETH 13 Jun 82  
2 27.09.39     Sileshi Sihine Ethiopia ETH 29 Jan 83  
3 27.22.57     Zersenay Tadese Egypt ERI 8 Feb 82 NR
4 27.25.48     Boniface Kiprop Uganda UGA 12 Oct 85  
5 27.27.70     Haile Gebrselassie Ethiopia ETH 18 Apr 73  
6 27.41.91     John Cheruiyot Korir Kenya KEN 13 Dec 81  
7 27.46.61     Moses Mosop Kenya KEN 17 Jul 85  
8 27.57.09     Ismaïl Sghyr France FRA 16 Mar 72  
9 27.57.61     José Manuel Martínez Spain ESP 22 Oct 71  
10 28.01.94     Fabiano Joseph Naasi Tanzania TAN 24 Dec 85  
11 28.10.75     Wilson Busienei Uganda UGA 18 Aug 81  
12 28.14.53     Dan Browne United States USA 24 Jun 75  
13 28.17.08     Charles Kamathi Kenya KEN 18 May 78  
14 28.23.39     Kamiel Maase Netherlands NED 20 Oct 71  
15 28.26.26     Abdi Abdirahman United States USA 1 Jan 77  
16 28.29.87     Yonas Kifle Eritrea ERI 24 Mar 77  
17 28.43.19     Dieudonné Disi Rwanda RWA 24 Apr 78  
18 28.55.96     Mohamed Amyn Morocco MAR 25 May 76  
19 29.06.50     Ryuji Ono Japan JPN 27 Jan 85  
20 29.06.55     Teodoro Vega Mexico MEX 14 Jul 76  
21 29.38.05     David Galván Mexico MEX 6 Apr 73  
  DNF     Dathan Ritzenhein United States USA 30 Dec 82  
  DNF     John Yuda Msuri Tanzania TAN 9 Jun 79  
  DNF     John Henwood New Zealand NZL 30 Aug 72  




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