Navigation menu button

Interview: World’s greatest runner Kenenisa Bekele tells JOE why Ethiopians are so good at running

by @JOEdotie
Email author
23435-xlarge

Kenenisa Bekele, widely considered the greatest distance runner of all time, spoke to JOE about racing in Ireland, the Irishman who beat him and why Ethiopians are so good at running.

By Mark O’Toole

Currently the 5,000 metre and 10,000 metre Olympic champion, as well as the world record holder in both distances, Bekele was unbeaten for a period of eight years between 2003 and 2011 in the longer of the two distances.

He sat down for a one-on-one interview with JOE ahead of the Spar Great Ireland Run on 15th April.

JOE: How did you start running?

KB: When I was very young, ten or eleven years ago and saw other athletes winning – other Ethiopian athletes, my feelings then forced me to run.

I started training back then around eleven years ago and I was not so fast and I was not winning.

After two or three years I started winning, so maybe I am only good at running for nine or eight years!

JOE: And your mentor then was fellow Ethiopian running legend Haile Gebrselassie. Why are Ethiopians so good at long-distance running?

KB: We have good weather and a good training area, you know – the landscape?

Also it’s our culture. We are working all the time, when we are moving around we use running. So it’s all that I think…

JOE: One of the very few people to ever beat you was an Irishman, Alistair Cragg in 2005. He has already qualified for this year’s Olympic 5000metres, what do you think of him?

KB: I think he was a very strong athlete. I saw him many times in different races in Europe and he was a great athlete. I think his future is very bright, so he’s a good guy.

JOE: 100metre Olympic champion Usain Bolt has said that you are as good and as dominant as him, but you don’t get enough credit for it. Why do you think that is?

KB: Ah it is just the type of sport, you know? I can’t do anything about it. The 100 metre is just covered more, but I am okay about it.

JOE: Usain Bolt has said that after he wins a race his favourite food to eat is chicken nuggets. Do you have a favourite food that you like to treat yourself to when you win?

KB: (Laughs) After winning – anything, you know! After that time I am very hungry so any food. There is nothing special just anything!

JOE: In the last Olympics you won the 5,000 and the 10,000 metres. Can you do the same again this summer?

KB: First of all I have to qualify and train and maybe after qualification I will decide what I am going to do.  At this time it is a little bit early so I don’t want to say anything!

JOE: Your brother Tariku is also a world champion distance runner. Is there any friendly rivalary between you two as brothers to see who is better?

KB: I think it is different to this.

We don’t say ‘I am better than you’ like this. He knows me and I know him. We are helping each other like brothers.

It is friendly – we are brothers.

JOE: Finally you are here to race in the Spar Great Ireland Run – is that to help with your preparation for the Olympics?

KB: Yes, it is very good to run here in Ireland.

I am very happy when I am coming back because I did great history here in the World Cross Country Championship.

JOE: Which you won here in 2002…

KB: Yes.

So it is the nice people too. I am very happy to run here because it is very similar to London too.

It suits me.

JOE: Thank you for your time Kenenisa, best of luck.

KB: You are very welcome.

Competition

Win a €5,000 Full Smile Makeover! Find out more

Kick

Features

Video: Man takes a selfie beside a passing train, lives to very much regret it
father and son

Features

Here are the ‘official’ top 10 signs you are turning into your father
balegoal3

News

Pics: Some cracking shots of Gareth Bale during and after THAT goal last night
bale v Barca

Videos

Vine: Gareth Bale uses his blistering pace to win the Copa del Rey for Real Madrid
distinpalace

News

Pic: Sylvain Distin hits back at Twitter troll telling him to ‘leg it’ from Everton
sorry-were-closed-sign

Features

10 things you’ll hear Irish people say on Good Friday
headline

Pic of the day

The least likely (yet still hilarious) nickname you’re ever likely to see in an obituary notice
facebook

News

How often do you check Facebook every day? The Irish average is…
simpsonsfoot

Home News

Pic: Somebody in Wexford has put their foot up for sale on Done Deal
BlighDonal

News

Video: Irish Amputee Football Association player nails a crossbar challenge
Man v bin

Home News

Video: One Galway man’s fight with a wheelie bin is the funniest thing you’ll see today
MannoneVito

Premier League

Vine: World-class clanger from Vito Mannone hands Manchester City a title lifeline
wallstreethonest

News

Video: The Wolf of Wall Street gets the honest trailer treatment… and it’s just fu**ing great
MCDPLOF FE007

News

Top five movies with a truly shocking twist
temple bar

Travel

Temple Bar listed as one of the ten most disappointing destinations in the world
DennehyDaniel Doritos

News

Video: Irish freestyle football superstar Daniel Dennehy surprises LUAS commuters
pendredmcgregor

MMA

Video: Conor McGregor and Cathal Pendred provide Octagon-side coaching for Chris Fields during his TUF 19 fight
NickBarnesBook

News

Pic of the day: This notebook from a football anorak is just sheer genius
Ben Dalton onboard Liberty Counsel 1/4/2013

Horse racing

Some trends and tips for you ahead of the Boylesports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse
glenroethrones

TV & Radio

Video: The Glenroe opening sequence seems a whole lot different with the Game of Thrones intro music
FBL-ESP-CUP-BARCELONA-REALMADRID-FINAL

News

Video: These are what celebrations in Madrid last night looked like from Gareth Bale’s point of view
Tony Browne 7/8/2011

News

Waterford great Tony Browne retires from inter-county hurling
England Training Session

News

Video: Courtney Lawes smashes Owen Farrell with bone-shuddering tackle
Barry Geraghty onboard More of That celebrates winning 13/3/2014

Horse racing

Video: Barry Geraghty talks about the upcoming Boylesports Irish Grand National
rugby

Competitions

Competition: Win tickets for the return to Cork of the JOE Rugby Roadshow next week
KelloggsGolf 001

Golf

JOE travels to Carton House to get the low-down on the Kellogg’s Nutri Grain Golf Skills Challenge
sorry-were-closed-sign

Features

10 things you’ll hear Irish people say on Good Friday
PiggyBank

Features

Are you missing out on a rake of cash by not availing of employer contributions to your pension scheme?
game of thrones logo

Tech

Tired of spoilers? Then here’s a handy app to remove them from your feeds
"Disney Studios" take one: lights, camera,-- action In Marne la Vallee, France-

Features

Lucozade Energy’s ‘Danger Dan’ of the Day: Rémy Julienne
headline

Pic of the day

The least likely (yet still hilarious) nickname you’re ever likely to see in an obituary notice
panini

Features

Video: Someone has already completed the World Cup Panini sticker album…
StrickerSteve

Golf

Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain presents The Top 5 Golf Skills Part II
firehovercraft

Features

Video: Russian firefighters use several fire hoses to create deadly makeshift hovercraft
up your game header

Style

Video: A lucky JOE reader gets to Up Their Game with a style overhaul
woodysbird

News

Video: Jonathan Woodgate ‘stars’ in easily the worst ad featuring footballer of all time (and that’s saying something)
Man v bin

Home News

Video: One Galway man’s fight with a wheelie bin is the funniest thing you’ll see today
htc header

Gear Reviews

Review: HTC One m8
father and son

Features

Here are the ‘official’ top 10 signs you are turning into your father
Simpsons Facebook 1

TV & Radio

Pics: First look at the upcoming Simpons/LEGO crossover episode
Send in a story and earn some cash