Should be a barn-burner. Bekele knows he's going to have to push the pace but if Geb is in form there is know way Bekele will be able to break him. Bekele will more likely become a rabbit for a new WR for Geb.
Bekele will likely never be the track star Geb has been. He just doesn't have the finish - which is what really allowed the Great one to become so great. Run faster than hell and finish even faster.
Geb could have been an intenational cross country star but to his credit never focused off road. He preferred to save himself for the big money and fast time on the track and for a longer career. Running cross would have likely made both of these much less likely.
I only wish that Geb would have dropped down a few years back to challenge in the 15 more often. I think he could've done some international damage. Maybe even challenged El G.
Oh well, we'll never know - it should be interesting to see if he is still dig into that remarkable finish.
>Bekele will likely never be
>the track star Geb has been. He just doesn't have
>the finish - which is what really allowed the
>Great one to become so great. Run faster than
>hell and finish even faster.
Hey, as far as I know, Zatopek wasn't a great kicker, either. Neither was Ingrid Kristiansen, or Wang Junxia (or Paula Radcliffe, for that matter). If your margin of superiority is big enough, you don't need a sprint finish to win races. Just look at what was happening on the XC circuit this winter. Brussels is the best example - Bekele won by well over a minute ahead of Sergey Lebid and Paul Kosgei Obviously the margin wasn't that big in the WXC, but with 2 races on consecutive days, he had to save himself a bit...
Having said that, I'm not totally convinced myself that Bekele will be all that on the track. Many athletes have done great things in XC but not on the track (or vice versa) - it's just a whole different kind of running.
Why was Komen always in Geb's shadow - no big kick. Things are different these days. Zatopek was great but he wouldn't be great these days. The bar has been raised too high. Now it takes 24 65s, and finish with 54/26. As great as Zatopek was he wouldn't have been able to do that.
Bekele is a great runner and obviously a world class competitor. Maybe he will be able to develop a stinging finish but this has yet to be seen and will be needed to win the big ones on the track. You can't win from the front on the track in 2003.
Agreed, Gebre was winning major championships with his sprint finish. But the point is, being able to run 12:39/26:22 he could have won from the front, pushing the pace, had he wanted to - he just didn't have to do it. Look at the times the world's best are running these days - the fastest times in the world last year were 12:55 and 26:49. If Bekele was able to approach the WR territory, he could manage perfectly well without a sprint finish.
My point about him possibly not being a track specialist received some support, however. At the Ethiopian national champs last weekend, Bekele lost the 5000 meters to Sileshi Sihin by 12 seconds... That sort of a margin suggests it wasn't just a matter of not kicking fast enough.
Re Gebrselassie vs Komen: How many times did they even race each other in their prime? I can only remember two such races - the 5000 meters in Zurich in 1996 and 1997. In the first case, Komen won (admittedly, Geb wasn't 100% in that case). In the second, indeed he was outkicked, but can we really generalize on the basis of one race? Komen's lack of a sprint finish didn't stop him from winning a world championship gold in 1997 - he just attacked early and manage to lose everyone with the pace. In fact bringing up Komen proves my point exactly - if your margin of superiority is big enough, a sprint finish isn't required. Of course you then have to do it the hard way, but it is perfectly possible.
>Agreed, Gebre was winning major championships
>with his sprint finish. But the point is, being
>able to run 12:39/26:22 he could have won from
>the front, pushing the pace, had he wanted to -
>he just didn't have to do it.
I don't think Geb would have won as frequently running from the front. How many major championships since Zatopek have been won with front running tactics? Geb's superiority is/was his finish not his mid-race strength. He is strong but given an equally determined and gifted competitor he would with with his his finish.
If there is no Geb or if Geb has lost his a bit of his speed he Bekele may have a shot. But there are some very strong and very fast finishing Kenyans who are not likely to give him the race.
Geb is very special as is El G. Will Bekele be in that class? Only time will tell but it will be very difficult without the finishing speed. It will be exciting to see him try to take some of the sting away from his competitors.
>>>How many major championships since Zatopek have
>been won with front running tactics?>>
>off the top of my head, Kipkoech in '87, Boutaïb
>in '88, Tanui in '91 (although Chelimo did most
>of the leading).
Three of off the top of your head, and the last in 91 and as you said Chelimo led most of the '91. That's not too good. How many who took the lead early placed lower than they would have if they had not lead?
Maybe Kennedy, Scott, Holman and Hamilton could help to answer that question. Its ballsy to lead but its almost always also suicidal.
Komen didn't lead from the beginning of the race, but my point was that there are other ways of winning races besides running a fast final 200 meters, so this example fits perfectly here. I guess if we could come up with 6 examples of men's major championship finals within the last 16 years which were won in that way, that means it is still very much possible.
To Cyril: I never said most races were won in that way. I also did refer to it as 'doing it the hard way'. So yes, I do realize it ain't easy, but it IS possible.
Your bringing up Kennedy, Holman et al. in this context is totally irrelevant. None of them were ever anywhere near being the best in the world. You cannot win from the front if you can't sustain a harder pace than anyone else in the race. Kennedy was a 12:58 runner racing against lots of Africans capable of doing 12:50 or so. If Bekele can run 12:40, it will be a different story altogether.
To Cyril: I
>never said most races were won in that way. I
>also did refer to it as 'doing it the hard way'.
>So yes, I do realize it ain't easy, but it IS
Your bringing up Kennedy, Holman et
>al. in this context is totally irrelevant. None
>of them were ever anywhere near being the best in
>the world. You cannot win from the front if you
>can't sustain a harder pace than anyone else in
>the race. Kennedy was a 12:58 runner racing
>against lots of Africans capable of doing 12:50
>or so. If Bekele can run 12:40, it will be a
>different story altogether.
We do agree that it is possible to win from the front, but if there is another runner also capable of 12:40 in the same race (and most likely there will be others) the victor will be the one who has trailed and is able to kick.
Re: Holman, Kennedy, Scott etc. - granted none other than Scott was truely at a level to be able to possibly win, but all tried to lead and ended up meat in the late stages placing much lower than they would have if they had not used this strategey. So my point is leading takes a tremendous about of pyscological and physical energy and makes it extremely difficult to pull off a great race. You're right - not impossible just very difficult. If Bekele can do this against the depth of today's world-class runners it will be quite phenomenal...but his CC running is phenomenal, so maybe.
I don't see any 12:40 runners out there at the moment. In fact, the level of long-distance running is definitely lower than it was 5 or 6 years ago. Last year we saw a whole of bunch of Africans running in the 12:55-13:00 range, but no one really standing out. OK, with the right pacesetting they might go 12:50 or so, but if anyone can get close to Geb's WR, he will be in a class of his own. If a runner of this kind appears (whether it's Bekele or anyone else), he will be able to win major championships Komen-style.
I think if someone does the pace setting you will see more guys in the low 12:40 range. Bekele would make an ideal rabbit to pull them along and see if anyone has anything left in the last 2-400.
Again- Geb is a very special case. Incredible speed and strength. He was also smart in not over racing. He saved himself for the biggies and didn't run CC. I don't think a Bekele/Komen style runner, without the big kick, will be able to dominate as Geb has done. But, I hope I'm wrong - it would be fun to see.
I know this is an oldish thread, but still oh so relevant!
I think Bekele, as with any ethiopian can win big meets because like Geb they concentrate on an event. The Kenyan runners tend to race alot throughout the season chasing money, and fair enough. But it must have some bearing on the outcome of major meets.
P.S. If any one can ever do the Zatopek again I think Geb should do it in athens, otherwise it is lost forever.