Host City: Beijing, China
Venue(s): Beijing National Stadium, Beijing
Date Started: August 17, 2008
Date Finished: August 17, 2008
Format: Final only.
[Kenenisa Bekele] was the heavy favorite. He was the defending champion, and had broken the world record twice, in 2004 and 2005, and still held it at a heady 26:17.53. He was also World Champion at the distance in 2003, 2005, and 2007. But he had competition in Beijing in the form of the man who had been king, [Haile Gebrselassie]. Geb had won the Olympic gold medal at 10K in 1996 and 2000, and was world champion four straight times from 1993-1999. He had also set three world records at the distance, the first in 1995 and the last in 1998. But by now he had moved up and was considered a greater threat in the marathon. However, in Beijing, he elected to pass on the marathon, concerned about the air condition and its possible effect on his health. In the race, Gebrselassie led thru 6,000 metres at only a moderate pace. The 2004 bronze medalist, [Zersenay Tadesse] (ERI), took the lead at 8K, and began to push it a bit. But a pack of 10 still remained together. Just before the bell, Bekele went to the front and effectively the race was over. He was in charge throughout the final lap, and won by almost 15 metres, with his countryman [Sileshi Sihine] getting silver. Gebrselassie was with the lead group on the final lap, but no longer had the speed to contend for a medal, finishing sixth.