Brilliant Bekele batters field
Kenenisa Bekele’s star quality was able to pierce through a blustery crosswind at the Spar Great Ireland Run 10km in the Phoenix Park yesterday.
The Ethiopian retained his title in 28:51 and now has his sights set on qualifying for the World Track and Field Championships in Moscow in August.
“I am ok now,” said Bekele of his injury ridden two year absence that dashed his chances of retaining his Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m titles.
He easily defeated nine-time European cross country Sergiy Lebid of Ukraine in 29:08 and fellow countryman Ibrahim Jeilan in 29:18.
“I can do nothing,” reflected Bekele about the past. He now believes he can beat new distance kingpin Mo Farah and the rest of his rivals. “I am still young,” said the most decorated distance runner in history.
“I don’t have a message for Mo Farah,” he continued when asked whether he had anything to say to the double Olympic champion. “The message is that I will train hard and I will be back.”
He still hasn’t decided if he will double up at the World Championships in Moscow in August as he still has to qualify first.
“I will decide after qualification,” said Bekele, who will run the Ethiopian 10,000m trial at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon at the end of May.
In the women’s race it was an English clean sweep with Lauren Howarth claiming victory in 33:36 from defending champion Gemma Steel (33:49) and Julia Bleasedale (33:50).
“I just didn’t have it today,” said Linda Byrne, best of the Irish in sixth. “It’s been a long season,” said the DSD athlete who ran a relatively disappointing 34:24. “I was ok for the first few kilometres but once they picked up the pace I wasn’t able to go with it. I was just happy to get around and win the national title,” she added. Elish Kelly (Raheny Shamrock) was second in 35:37 with Teresa McGloin (Finn Valley) third in 35:41.
Stephen Scullion (North Belfast Harriers) prevailed in the men’s domestic competition in 30:15 with Sergiu Ciobanu (Clonliffe Harriers) second in 30:59 and Eddie McGinley (Annadale Striders) third in 31:00.
The elite men’s mile that preceded the 10km provided drama during and after the race with Paul Robinson, the eventual winner in 4:14, falling on the start line and rising star David Harper collapsing after crossing the line.
“I took a tumble at the start,” said Robinson in the medical tent who was more concerned with Harper’s wellbeing than his grazed elbow.
“The pace wasn’t too quick and I felt strong all the way,” said the St Coca’s athlete who will be part of an Irish men’s distance medley relay team at the Penn Relays on April 27th.
Harper (Sligo AC) had a breakthrough run in 4:18 behind Robinson and Kilkenny City Harriers’ Eoin Everard (4:16) but he soon fell into a shock seizure that sent a wave of panic around Chesterfield Avenue.
With his face turning white there were genuine fears for his health but thankfully he made a full recovery.
“I am a bit embarrassed,” said a recovering Harper who had never suffered from a seizure previously.
The 17-year-old was then making plans for the upcoming track season but it was a poignant reminder about which finishing line is more important.