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Bekele retains Olympic title in 10000m race
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Defending champion Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele retained his Olympic title in the African-dominated men's 10,000 meters race at the Beijing Olympic Games on Sunday.

Bekele, the reigning world record holder, clocked 27 minutes and 1.17 seconds to refresh the Olympic record created by himself at the Athens Games four years ago.

The 26-year-old distance runner has become the sixth who has won back-to-back Olympic titles in the men's longest track race with a best result of 26:25.97 this season.

As also a three-time world champion in the event, Bekele has been one of the favorites including his countryman former world record holder Haile Gebrselassie who has run 26:51.20 this year.

"It is very special to defend my Olympic title and the medal is a big gift to me and my country." said Bekele. " It was a fantastic race, not too fast not too slow, although the second half was very tough, no one can really trouble me."

"For the moment I don't have a plan for four years long to the next Olympic Games. But I will continue to make history for myself and my country and I will not give up running since it is a gifted talent, it is my job." He added.

Bekele's countryman Sileshi Sihine won the silver medal by running 27 minutes and 2.77 seconds. Sihine outpaced Kenya's Micah Kogo at the last lap who won the bronze medal.

"I am so happy to see that we have won 1-2 in the race and I am also happy to win the silver medal." Sihine said.

Kogo and another Kenyan runner Moses Ndiema Masai, who finally ranked the fourth, had led the race for most of the time and just stayed on the Ethiopians' heels in the last two laps.

"Kenenisa moved out in the last two lap so it is hard to beat him for he is in the top level. I pushed hard, but I couldn't catch up with him." said Kogo.

The 35-year-old Gebrselassie ran 27 minutes and 6.68 seconds to achieve the sixth place.

"I am very happy to see Ethiopian athletes won the top two places. Today this is what I can do. I enjoy the race and the wonderful stadium, audience and the Olympics." said Gebrselassie.

"It is hard to say whether I will retire after this Games. I said to retire four years ago, but I kept running. I really want to focus on marathon race." said the Ethiopian distance idol who decided not to participate in marathon at the Beijing Olympics for an excuse of "health problem".

"I am not sure whether it will be his last Games. he said a lot before. maybe yes maybe no." Bekele said at the press conference.

To a question on who is the greatest runner of Ethiopia between him and Gebrselassie, the gold medalist cautiously replied, "I have no idea."

(Xinhua News Agency August 17, 2008)

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