OSLO, June 28 (AFP) - Kenenisa Bekele has alreadymastered cross-country and he showed here that he is ontarget to succeed distance running legend HaileGebrselassie in amassing titles on the track.
Bekele’s devastating sprint finish in the 5,000 metresat the Golden League Bislett Games meeting on Fridayswept him to victory in 12min 52.26sec, more than 20seconds faster than his personal best.
Significantly, it wiped Gebrselassie’s four-year-oldtime of 12:53.92 out of the stadium record books in thevenue which has become a temple of distance running.
Being usurped by his younger Ethiopian rival is anexperience Gebrselassie has already had to get used tothis year - 21-year-old Bekele, the reigning world crosscountry champion, beat him convincingly over 10,000metres in Hengelo.
After losing last year’s track season to injury,Bekele is impatient to win gold at the WorldChampionships, which start in Paris on August 23.
At the Stade de France, he is expected to run hispreferred distance, the 10,000 metres, and could face his world-famouscountryman in a much anticipated showdown.
With world 1,500 metres record holder Hicham ElGuerrouj vowing to attempt a spectacular 1,500/5,000double in Paris, Bekele quashed speculation that hemight double up on the two longer races.
``I don’t think it’s possible to do the two at theworld championships,’’ he said in Oslo.
Gebrselassie, 30, was not in Norway but one look atthe result here will have given him a sense of theshifting sands of time.
Sammy Kipketer of Kenya, also 21, chased Bekele hometo finish just seven hundredths of a second behind in apersonal best 12:52.33.
And third-placed Eliud Kipchoge, just 18, set a newworld junior record of 12:52.61.
After struggling with injury, Gebrselassie was onlythird at the last World Championships in Edmonton twoyears ago - this year he risks being pushed out of themedals altogether.
The world will have a better idea of the possibleoutcome in Paris when Bekele races Gebrselassie at theRome Golden League meeting on July 11.