Ethiopia hopes for encore from Bekele

Olympics 2012: Beijing double gold medallist bids for 5k and 10k race berths.

Kenenisa Bekele will bid for his qualification at the Diamond League meeting in Paris.
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ADDIS ABABA // Kenenisa Bekele, holder of the world and Olympic athletics records in both the 5,000 and 10,000 metres, leads a group of Ethiopian runners seeking to nail down London Olympics berths this weekend.

The 10,000m trial for men will take place in Liege, Belgium, today, and the 5,000m qualifying race for men will place at the Diamond League meet in Paris tomorrow.

"We are ready now, we've already had good performances," said Dube Jillo, the technical director of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation.

Bekele will run in Paris, and hopes he is selected to compete in the 10,000m, as well. Dube said that despite him suffering from an injury for the last two years, the runner was confident.

"The 10,000m runners are very strong athletes. I hope Bekele is in the team," he said.

Ethiopia has a history of producing elite runners. They won four gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Bekele won two, and the other two came from Tirunesh Dibaba, who mirrored Bekele in claiming the women's 5,000m and 10,000m. Yirma Berta, the coach, said he also had high hopes for Bekele.

"He will fight with our athletes and all the other athletes and he will perform like he did in the last Olympics," Yirma said.

Ibrahim Jeilan, who will be racing the 10,000m in Liege today, said he anticipates top efforts from his teammates, both at this week's qualifying races and at the Olympics.

"They are younger and new athletes. Maybe for this year we have chance to win golds in both men's and women's events."

Jeilan was out of training for six months due to an injury. He hurt a tendon and resumed training in May, which he said could affect his performance.

"I don't have endurance, I haven't put in endurance training, that may be my problem in my race," he said. He believes he is mentally ready to run and expects to come in under 27 minutes in the 10K, the time required to qualify for the Olympics.

"I'm feeling better. I am ready for this race, but one week ago I was disturbed, I was worried about injury and about risk. Now I am ready now. I am feeling free now," he said.

Ethiopia have not finalised their Olympic team but are expected to announce the list of competing athletes at the weekend.

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