By Irish Times
A BIG DAY FOR ERITREA: When a country has only had independence for just over 20 years, it clings tightly to its heroes. Since Eritrea finally stood on its own two feet in 1991, nobody has been a bigger hero than Zersenay Tadese. In 2004, he won the nascent African nation’s first Olympic medal when he finished third in the 10,000m. Now 30 years old, he has been there or thereabouts in the long-distance races at major events for close to a decade and each time he runs, Eritrea stops. Even his wedding – with 2,500 guests – was shown live on Eritrean TV.
Every time he wins, he dedicates his victory to his country. And there have been plenty of victories. He’s the world record holder in the half-marathon and took gold four years in a row at the world half-marathon championships.
But for Kenenisa Bekele, he would have a lot more gold medals, a silver in the 2009 World Championships 10k just one of the days he beat everybody except arguably the greatest distance runner of all time.
At 9.15 tonight he will have Bekele to deal with again, as well as home favourite Mo Farah, Kenyan Moses Masai and American Galen Rupp.