PARIS - Kenenisa Bekele heads to the Beijing Olympics as defending 10 000m champion and world record holder in both that event and the 5 000m, but sadly for running fans he has ruled out a double.
The tight schedule in what is expected to be a steaming hot Chinese capital and a clutch of tough rivals mean Bekele will focus solely on his 10 000m crown.
"It's very tough to run a double at the Olympics," said Bekele, who was beaten to gold by Hicham El-Guerrouj by 0,20 seconds in the 5000 in the Athens Games in 2004, a few days after the 10000.
"I ran many kilometres in a few days in Athens, and I lost a lot of power."
Bekele's year has already seen him garner yet more success in cross-country. His victory in Edinburgh in March, coming after he had stopped to put a shoe back on, saw him ensconced as the most accomplished runner in IAAF World Cross-Country Championships history, with six long-course (12km) and five short-course (4km) titles.
Bekele will likely be running alongside compatriot Haile Gebrselassie, the man Bekele succeeded as world and Olympic champion and world record holder.
Gebrselassie has spurned any idea of running the marathon over concerns of bad air quality in the Chinese capital and is hoping to make the cut for the Ethiopian trio of 10000m runners alongside Bekele and, more than likely, Sileshi Sihine, the reigning Olympic silver medallist.
It is no easy feat to make the team with compatriots Abebe Dinkesa and Gebre Gebremariam also in the running with solid sub-27 minute credentials. Bekele said he had no real concerns over the pollution in Beijing.
"The problem of pollution will be the same for all the athletes competing there," he said.
Bekele has rebounded from the death of his fiancee in 2005, 18-year-old Alem Techale, from an apparent heart attack while on a training run with him.
In November last year, he married Ethiopian film actress Danawit Gebregziabher, who was a concerned onlooker when Bekele raced in Edinburgh.
"It's true that at this stage of my career, at my age, I have achieved many feats. But I want to remain at this level and in this sport for many years to come," Bekele said after his victory in Scotland. - Sapa-AFP