The three-time Olympic champion on the track and second-fastest marathoner of all time, Kenenisa Bekele has clearly showed his displeasure with the Ethiopian Athletics Association yesterday by annoucing his withdrawal from Saturday’s Ethiopian Olympic marathon trials, which will be held as a 35 km race in the city of Sebeta, 15 miles outside the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. Bekele made it more official by writing a letter in that regard to Ethiopian Athletics Association.
Although Bekele has not run a marathon since his near-world record of 2:01:41 in Berlin in September 2019, but still stand as a man to beat.
In the letter, Bekele said he was 100% healthy but criticized the Ethiopian Athletics Federation for changing its selection criteria and staging its trials too close to the Olympic marathon in Sapporo, which will be held on August 8. The gap between the two races is 14 weeks. For reference, when Eliud Kipchoge won Olympic gold in 2016, there was a 17-week gap between Kipchoge’s spring marathon (London) and the Olympic marathon in Rio de Janeiro. Fourteen weeks between a 35 km race and a marathon is a relatively tight turnaround and Bekele said he would not be competing as a result.
He also mentioned how countries like the US are honoring selections from a long time ago. He also complained that in 2016 he was left off the team according to what he said was discrimination.