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London Olympics 2012

Elvan Abeylegesse

Elvan AbeylegesseElvan AbeylegesseElvan AbeylegesseElvan AbeylegesseElvan Abeylegesse

Elvan Abeylegesse, born September 11, 1982 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia is an Ethiopian-born Turkish middle and long distance track and field athlete, competing in the 1500 meter, 3000 meter and 5000 meter, but also the 10000 meter, 2 mile and in cross country events. She is the former world-record holder for the 5000 meter at 14:24.68. Abeylegesse was born Hewan Abeye in Ethiopia and raised with her seven brothers and sisters. She began her career running cross country. In 1999, she started for the Ethiopian junior team at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Belfast, Northern Ireland and finished ninth. There, she was invited to a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey. In Istanbul, she said that she liked it there very much.

"I didn't get enough support from my federation in Ethiopia," she said. "My track club in Turkey gave me all the support I needed. So I decided to move to Turkey. The support was much better in Istanbul. I thought it would be easier to reach my goals in Turkey.”

To get Turkish citizenship, she married and took the name Elvan Can. She has since divorced and now uses the name Elvan Abeylegesse.

“As a youngster, my heroes were Ethiopian runners. I would follow the victories of Gete Wami particularly”, Abeylegesse said. “I studied all their actions: how they slept, how they ate, how they trained, and how they competed.”

Registered in the Enka Sports Club in Istanbul, she is coached by Ertan Hatipoglu, a former triple jumper of Turkish origin from Bulgaria. She still has a friendly relationship with other Ethiopian runners, but there is a problem with her former federation.

“The officials don’t allow me to train in Ethiopia any longer", Abeylegesse says. “I train now at high altitudes in Turkey as I think that some of my former compatriots see me as a threat. They are uncomfortable with me training in Ethiopia. But I, of course, remain friends with the individual Ethiopian runners.”

Abeylegesse’s career in the international arena began at the age of 18 in Grosseto, Italy in 2001 by winning the European 3000 meter and 5000 meter titles, setting a national record for Turkey. She became a world leader with a time of 8:31:94 in the 3000 meters in Brussels, Belgium in 2002 and with a time of 3:58.38 in the 1500 meters in Moscow, Russia in 2004. Abeylegesse has been a scholarship holder with the Olympic Solidarity program since August 2002. At the Evergood Bergen Bislett Games in Norway on June 11, 2004, the sixth meeting of TDK Golden League, Abeylegesse broke the women’s 5000 meter world record, which had belonged to Chinese runner Jiang Bo since 1997, improving the mark by over three seconds to 14:24.68. She became the first Turkish athlete ever to set a world record.

"I worked very hard, day and night," Abeylegesse said, speaking through an interpreter. "My target since the first day I started running has been to break world records and become Olympic champion." Şarık Tara, the honorary president of her club, said, "I am proud of our daughter Elvan. Her achievement is an even greater success than our men's national soccer team finishing third in the World Cup."

On 3 June 2006 her record time was beaten by Ethiopian Meseret Defar, who ran in 14:24.53 in New York City. She ran at the inaugural World 10K Bangalore Race in 2008 and finished in a dead heat with Grace Momanyi, with both runners eventually being declared joint victors. Abeylegesse won the 2010 edition of the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon in a time of 1:07:07. This was the fastest ever time for a débutante in the half marathon race and made her the sixth fastest woman overall. She played down suggestions of a permanent switch to longer road races, however, saying a marathon debut would have to wait until after the 2012 London Olympics. At the 2010 European Athletics Championships, Abeylegesse won gold in the 10,000 meters, finishing in 31 minutes, 10.23 seconds On 28 July 2010, and she won the silver medal in the 5000 meters finishing in 14 minutes, 54.44 seconds on 1 August 2010. She narrowly missed out on a medal at the 2010 IAAF Continental Cup, finishing two seconds behind Molly Huddle in the 5000 meters.

The International Fair Play Committee (CIFP) announced that Turkey’s double Olympic medallist Elvan Abeylegesse had won their top award in recognition of her good sportsmanship. The CIFP awarded Abeylegesse, the first Turkish athlete ever to set a track and field World record, the Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy, a prize given for a gesture of fair play. Last summer at the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Berlin Abeylegesse lent her spare track shoes to Ethiopian athlete Meselech Melkamu just 15 minutes before the start of the women’s 10,000 meter final. Melkamu, who left her own spikes in her hotel room, went on to win the silver medal in the race, while Abeylegesse was forced to quit in the seventh lap. Abeylegesse married her longtime partner Semeneh Debelie in February 2011 and decided to take the season off due to pregnancy. In July 2011, she gave birth to a girl named Arsema.

See more at: www.elvanabeylegesse.com

source: www.wikipedia.org


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