THIS REPORT IS COURTESY OF THE IAAF WEBSITE (www.iaaf.org) WHERE IT FIRST APPEARED ACCOMPANIED BY PHOTOS.
Tariku Bekele beats Paul Tergat in Oeiras
Sunday 21 November 2004
The 17 year-old Tariku Bekele, brother of Ethiopia’s World and Olympic 10,000m champion Kenenisa, won the men’s race, while Kenyan Alice Timbilil took the women’s category win at the Oeiras International, the first IAAF Cross Country Permit race of the 2004/2005 season.
Young Bekele surprises in a very tight race
Alice Timbilil of Kenya wins in Oeiras
Everyone already knows Kenenisa Bekele’s talent, the winner of last year’s race and of course, the six-time World Cross Country champion. This year he didn’t come to defend his title (which he won in 2002 and 2003) but his younger brother Tariku managed to keep the Oeiras trophy in the family in what turned out to be a very interesting race.
The victory, however, didn’t come easily. Bekele (ETH) had to face many strong opponents especially Paul Tergat (KEN), 35, former five-time World Cross Country champion, and the current World Marathon record holder. In fact, the African leading group really never broke up during the 9km contest, with all seven athletes finishing in very short order.
Bekele came home first in 26:28 – his first victory in Portugal – just one second ahead of Paul Tergat, and Worku Bado (ETH), only 16 years-old, who were both timed in 26:29. Eliud Kirui (KEN), 29, sixth in the 2004 World short course race, was fourth in 26:32, and last minute entry Admassu Yebelta (ETI) was fifth in 26,37. Moses Kigen (KEN), 31, only got seventh position in 27:12.
The first European home was the Portuguese Ricardo Ribas in eighth (27:23).
“The race was very difficult. I never thought it would be so hard. But, at the end, I found the strength to win”, said Tariku Bekele. During the race, all African runners stayed together, leaving all Europeans far behind about which Bekele explained: “that’s because our condition is very similar. We run long distances and we are used to doing that.”
Tergat was the one with best running credentials but Bekele didn’t think about that. “Well, he is a very strong athlete. But, I am not afraid of him. I did my race, and, because I was faster, beat him at the finish line.”
Tariku Bekele, is very much alike his brother, even when running. “We train together, which is important to me to understand more about athletics and to be a better athlete.”
Tergat better in January
Paul Tergat didn’t obtain the victory, but his racing condition was very much what he had expected since he has started his training with his main goals being the marathons of London and Berlin. “This was my fastest race since the Olympics. Next race, in January, I will be much better. You can be sure of that.”
And the young Bekele. Was it a surprise?
“I already knew he was very strong, like his brother. But it really was a surprise.”
Can he turn out to be like his brother soon?
“We will see about that. He is running very diligently and that is the most important thing. The rest will come in due time,” confirmed Tergat.
Alice Timbilil - an easier run
Kenyan Alice Timbilil, 4th in the World Cross long cross race this year, found herself in a much easier battle in the women’s division having expected stronger opposition from Merima Denboba (ETH), last year’s winner, and from Leah Malot (ETH) the 2002 winner.
In fact, Timbilil dominated her two rivals. The Kenyan ran the 5km course in 16:34 and Malot had to be satisfied once again with second place – last year she lost to Denboba at the finish line – in 16:42. Merima Denboba ended up third in 16:47.
Mónica Rosa, from Portugal, was the first non-African. She stayed with the leading group ending up in fourth in 16:51.
“It was not a surprise for me to win in Oeiras because, despite the beginning of the season, I’m training very hard,” confirmed Timbilil. “The race went well: “I simply continued to push. I didn’t want to look back to see if Malot was there or not. I just ran.”
Paulo Costa for the IAAF
- Tariku Bekele ETI 26:28
- Paul Tergat KEN 26:29
- Worku Bado ETI 26:29
- Eliud Kirui KEN 26:32
- Admassu Yebelta ETI 26:37
- Yonas Kiflles ERI 26:40
- Moses Kigen KEN 27:12
- Ricardo Ribas POR 27:23
- Manuel Magalhães POR 27:25
- José Maduro POR 27:26
- Alice Timbilil KEN 16:34
- Leah Malot KEN 16:42
- Merima Denboba ETI 16:47
- Mónica Rosa POR 16:51
- Marina Bastos POR 17:00
- Inês Monteiro POR 17:03
- Jessica Augusto POR 17:06
- Anália Rosa POR 17:11
- Catherine Chikwakwa MAL 17:12
- Helena Sampaio POR 17:15