Bekele, Dibaba bid for 10 000m repeatComment on this story
Paris – Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba lit up the track at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Ethiopian running legends each claiming victories in both the 5,000 and 10,000m.
Away from the barn-storming performances of Jamaican sprint star Usain Bolt, Bekele and Dibaba's feats were arguably the highlight of the track and field at the Bird's Nest stadium.
However, the duo have not had the run-in to the July 27-August 12 London Games they would have liked.
And it has been confirmed that neither will defend their double golds, instead racing just the 10,000m, with each named as replacement for the 5,000m.
Bekele saw his last chance to nail down a spot as one of the three automatic choices for the lesser distance go up in flames when he could only finish ninth at this month's Diamond League meet in Paris.
Bekele has slowly been coming back to form after spending two years battling a calf injury, but he never looked comfortable at the Stade de France.
“I won't be going to the Games to race the 5,000m,” he said. “But I'm not so disappointed because I have my place in the 10,000m. I don't have enough training under my belt to go in the 5,000m.”
Dejen Gebremeskel, Hagos Gebrehiwet and Yenew Alamirew will instead race the 5,000m, with Bekele, his brother Tariku and Gebregziabher Gebremariam named for the 10,000m.
Dibaba, a seven time world champion and the 5,000m world record holder, has, like Bekele, spent much time out of action because of injury, missing the world cross-country champs in Jordan and the world championships in Berlin in 2009.
But the 26-year-old has seemingly hit some rich form, having won three outings this year to impress her homeland's Olympic selectors.
Hailing from Bekoji, the same high-altitude Ethiopian town as Bekele and a member of the same Oromo ethnic group, Dibaba looks to have gone some way to regaining her 2008 form.
Come London and Dibaba will have to be at her best, with Kenyan arch-rival Vivian Cheruiyot keen to follow up on the 5,000-10,000m double she won at last year's world championships in Daegu.
“The return of Tirunesh Dibaba does not scare me,” Cheruiyot said. “I have no fear of Dibaba or Meseret Defar since we have to race together.”
Meserat Defar, Gelete Burka and Genet Yalew will compete in the 5,000m, while Dibaba, Belaynesh Olijara and Werknesh Kidane were unveiled as the 10,000m runners. – Sapa-AFP