Paris 2024: Ethiopia’s Bekele to renew rivalry with Olympic champion Kipchoge


One of the most iconic rivalries in athletics history is set to be rekindled at the Paris 2024 Olympics. Kenenisa Bekele, the Ethiopian distance running legend, has been named to Ethiopia’s marathon squad, ensuring a face-off with Kenyan great Eliud Kipchoge on August 10.

This highly anticipated clash could be the final chapter in a storied competition that has spanned over two decades.

Bekele, now 41, is a three-time Olympic champion in the 5,000m and 10,000m events. However, he has not competed at the Olympics since finishing fourth in the 10,000m at the London 2012 Games.

His recent second-place finish at the London Marathon has revitalized his career, securing his spot in Paris and setting the stage for another battle with Kipchoge.

An ecstatic Eliud Kipchoge after completing the race in 1:59.40 in Vienna, Austria during the INEOS 1:59 Challenge on October 12

Kipchoge, 39, is aiming to make history by becoming the first person to win three consecutive Olympic marathons following his triumphs in Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.

His rivalry with Bekele dates back to the 2003 World Championships in Paris, where a then-18-year-old Kipchoge won gold in the 5,000m, leaving Bekele with a bronze.

The rivalry intensified at the 2004 Athens Olympics. In the 5,000m final, Kipchoge claimed bronze while Bekele took silver, with Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj taking gold. Bekele then showcased his dominance by winning gold in the 10,000m.

Kenenisa Bekele at the Athens 2004 Olympics. PHOTO: X

Four years later, at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, Bekele once again bested Kipchoge, winning gold in both the 5,000m and 10,000m, while Kipchoge took silver in the shorter distance.

Since switching to marathon running in 2013, Kipchoge has established himself as one of the all-time greats, winning 11 major marathons and setting a world record until last October.

He also became the first person to run a marathon distance under two hours in 2019, albeit under controlled conditions with rotating pacemakers.

Bekele, on the other hand, made a stunning marathon debut in Paris in 2014, producing the sixth-fastest debut time ever. However, his marathon career has been plagued by injuries, preventing him from consistently challenging Kipchoge’s dominance.

Despite these setbacks, Bekele’s recent performance at the London Marathon suggests he remains a formidable competitor.

Kelvin Kimathi, a BBC Sport Africa reporter in Nairobi, draws a parallel between the Bekele-Kipchoge rivalry and that of football giants Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Both Bekele and Kipchoge have transformed distance running, each defining an era with their extraordinary achievements.

“Bekele’s return to the Olympics after a 12-year gap has caused high levels of excitement among athletics fans. He and Kipchoge have transformed distance running and defined an era. It is safe to say that these two are the Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi of distance running,” Kimathi explains.

With Bekele’s track dominance and Kipchoge’s marathon supremacy, their rivalry represents a clash of titans. The last time they raced together was at the 2018 London Marathon, where Kipchoge emerged victorious.

Now, with history on the line, Bekele will be determined to challenge Kipchoge’s quest for a historic third consecutive Olympic marathon title.

Paris 2024 could very well be the final showdown between these two legends. Bekele, approaching his 42nd birthday, will be seeking one last moment of Olympic glory, while Kipchoge, at 39, aims to cement his legacy as the greatest marathon runner of all time.

The stakes for Paris 2024 could not be higher. For Bekele, it’s a chance to add another chapter to his illustrious career and perhaps achieve the elusive Olympic marathon gold. For Kipchoge, it’s an opportunity to make history and solidify his place as the greatest marathon runner ever.

As they prepare to meet once more on the grandest stage, the world will watch with bated breath. This anticipated marathon duel promises to be a thrilling athletic contest and a fitting culmination of an era-defining rivalry.

The showdown between Bekele and Kipchoge in Paris 2024 will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the greatest rivalries in the history of athletics.

Whether Paris 2024 will indeed be the final chapter in their storied rivalry remains to be seen. However, one thing is certain: the showdown between Bekele and Kipchoge will be a momentous occasion, celebrating the enduring spirit and extraordinary talent of these two distance running icons.

Story: BBC

We are Africa’s number one online sports community created by true fans.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Share post:




More like this