By The Numbers: Kenenisa Bekele Named To Ethiopian Olympic Marathon Team

By Chris Chavez

May 16, 2024

Three-time Olympic gold medalist Kenenisa Bekele has been named to the Ethiopian Olympic marathon team along with Boston Marathon champion Sisay Lemma and Seville Marathon champion Deresa Geleta. The women’s team features world record holder Tigist Assefa, 2023 World champion Amane Beriso and Megertu Alemu.

Here’s a look at how Bekele by the numbers before he returns to the Olympic stage:

• 42 – Bekele will turn 42 years old next month. According to NBC and OlyMADMen, he will surpass Mamo Wolde as the oldest Ethiopian to compete at the Olympics.

• 4 – This will be Bekele’s fourth Olympic Games after competing in 2004 (Silver in the 5000m; Gold in the 10,000m); 2008 (Gold in the 5000m; Gold in the 10,000m) and 2012 (4th place in the 10,000m). He was the flagbearer for Ethiopia at the Beijing Games.

• 12 – The number of years between Olympic appearances. Bekele started transitioning to the marathon when he was passed on for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He was not selected for the Tokyo Olympics despite having run 2:01:41, which was the then-second-fastest marathon in history.

• 21 – The number of years between Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele’s epic showdown at the 2003 World Championships in Paris, when an 18-year-old Kipchoge upset the Ethiopian star and Hicham El Guerrouj.

• 15 – The number of head-to-head victories Bekele has over Kipchoge in his career in the 3000m, 5000m, 10,000m and cross country.

The breakdown is:

3000m: Bekele 2 – Kipchoge 1

10,000m: Bekele 1 – Kipchoge 0

Cross Country: Bekele 4 – Kipchoge 2

• 0 – The number of head-to-head victories Bekele has over Kipchoge in his career in the marathon. Paris will be their first race against one another since the 2018 London Marathon.

• 6 – The number of World Marathon Major podium finishes by Bekele. He finished second in April’s London Marathon in 2:04:15, which may have been enough to sway Ethiopian Athletics Federation selectors to put him on the team over 2023 New York City Marathon champion Tamirat Tola, who dropped out of London.

• 2 – Olympic records still standing. Bekele’s 12:57.82 for 5000m and 27:01.17 for 10,000m remain the fastest performances for gold in those respective events.

Chris Chavez

Chris Chavez launched CITIUS MAG in 2016 as a passion project while working full-time for Sports Illustrated. He covered the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and grew his humble blog into a multi-pronged media company. He completed all six World Marathon Majors and is an aspiring sub-five-minute miler.