Ethiopia’s Olympic squad glitters with gold-medal winners

(BEIJING 2008) — The Ethiopian Olympic Committee (EOC) has a squad of 36 athletes bound for the Beijing Olympic Games, and the group glitters with gold medalists.

Kenenisa Bekele, 10,000-meter gold medalist at the Athens 2004 Olympiad, will be joined by countrymen Sileshi Sihine and Haile Gebrselassie in the same event at the this summer’s Olympics in the Chinese capital.

Haile Gebrselassie won gold medals in the 10,000-meter race at the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games. Sileshi Sihine was the 10,000-meter silver medallist at the Athens 2004 Games. Ethiopia’s elite 10,000-meter race team hopes to capture all three podium places in Beijing.

On the women’s side, two-time world 10,000-meter champion Tirunesh Dibaba, who won the bronze medal in the women’s 5000-meter race at the Athens 2004 Games, might attempt an unprecedented double gold in the 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter competitions in Beijing, according to the International Association of Athletics Federations. She will be challenged by compatriot Meseret Defar, a 5,000-meter gold medalist in Athens in the 5000-meter event.

All 36 athletes on the Ethiopian Olympic team will compete in mid-distance and long-distance running events at the Beijing Games.