Besides the 1,500 metres there is another chance for Turkish glory in Athens
in the 5,000. No one would have expected that a couple of years ago. Since she
broke the 5,000 metres world record at the Golden League meeting in Bergen
(14:24,68 minutes) Elvan Abeylegesse is a favourite for Olympic gold. She is
the first ever Turkis world record holder in athletics. Her coach, Ertan
Hatipoglu, compares her with a car: “She has good tyres and a fine and
motor like a sports car.“ He expects her to be able to break the 5,000 m
world record again. “I think 14:20 minutes are possible for
"5" />But perhaps Berhane Adere will double in Athens. The 10,000 m world
champion from 2003 has shown her strength at 5,000 metres in the past as well.
She also had the potential to run a world record at this distance. Another
strong runner from Ethiopia is Tirunesh Dibaba. Actually she has won the 5,000
m gold medal at the World Championships last year. At the World Cross Country
Championships this year she was second at the 4 k event. This distance was won
by the strongest Kenyan so far at 5,000 m: Edith Masai. She will also be
fighting for gold in Athens. But altogether it looks as if the Ethiopians will
be very strong again.
ELVAN ABEYLEGESSE – Immigration to Turkey at 17
Elvan Abeylegesse was just 17 years old when she moved to Turkey. First
contact to Turkey had come after she had competed at the World Cross Country
Championships in 1999 as a junior. After finishing ninth she got an invitation
for a track meeting in Istanbul. “I very much liked it in Turkey. And it
seemed easier for me to reach my goals in Istanbul than in Ethiopia because
support was much better. Since I had started running my goals were to break a
world record and become an Olympic Champion one day“, Elvan Abeylegesse
explained. She has seven sisters and brothers back in Ethiopia and her father
worked at a paper factory. She got Turkish citizenship very quick because she
married. Meanwhile she has long been divorced again but speaks Turkish
fluently. She lives in a one room apartment in Istanbul, which is on the
grounds of a sports center.
Her coach is not born in Turkey as well. Ertan Hatipoglu comes from Bulgaria
and had been a triple jumper in former times. He has not coached any well known
international athletes before. There was an 800 m runner with a personal best
of 2:01 minutes and a 10,41 100 m sprinter.
Ethiopian officials are not so pleased with Elvan Abeylegesse since she
became more successful at international level. “During the winter last
year I intended to train at high altitude back in Ethiopia. But the officials
did not allow me to do it“, Elvan Abeylegesse, who also is number one
this year at 1500 metres with 3:58,28 minutes, reports. Instead of training in
Ethiopia she went to high altitude in Turkey. Sometimes in winter the trials
are covered with snow.