Kenenisa Bekele, arguably the greatest distance runner in history, was left off Ethiopia’s Olympic team leaving his future in question. With the 34-year-old being omitted from the Rio Olympics, it’s doubtful that the 5,000m and 10,000m world record holder will compete in another Games.
Bekele was left off the preliminary team roster for the East African nation and appealed the decision. His Rio absence was confirmed on the weekend when Ethiopia named its final team roster meaning his appeal was denied. He was looking to get a spot on the marathon squad.
The distance running great did not run enough big marathons in the lead up to the Olympics to earn a selection. His appeal was warranted, however, seeing as he finished third at the London marathon in April. It has been reported that he had only a month and a half of marathon specific-training before the race. He finished third in 2:06:36.
The three-time Olympic champion made a final bid to qualify for the country’s 10,000m team but failed to finish at the Trials. He is more of a marathon runner now than a track runner after injuries plagued his shorter distance success between 2009 and 2012.
Bekele’s greatest success came on the cross-country course. He’s an 11-time winner at the world cross-country championships. Though not anymore, the world cross-country championships used to have two disciplines: a short race and a long race, which allowed Bekele and others to double.
Ethiopia can select three runners per event including reserves in the case that one of the top three withdraws. Bekele was not named to the reserves in either the 10,000m or the marathon.