35 (April 23, 1978)
Hometown: Etya village, Arsi Province
Residence: Addis Ababa
Event: Marathon (2:07:54 PB)
- Gold Medalist, 2000 Olympics
- Gold Medalist, 2001 World Outdoor Championships
- 3-time winner Fukuoka International Marathon (1999, 2001 and 2002)
- Winner 2003 Flora London Marathon
Among the best pure marathon racers of his generation, Gezahegne Abera’s sensational sprint finishes are the stuff of legend. Oddly, his widest margin of victory came on the biggest stage: the 2000 Olympic Games. There, after being tripped at 19 miles, he surged at Mile 24 against a strong wind to defeat runner-up Eric Wainaina of Kenya by a rare chasm of 20 seconds. In his other five lifetime victories, he has won by the slim total of seven seconds, and in his 2003 London victory outsprinted five athletes – including current world record-holder Paul Tergat – for the win. Even in one of his rare losses, the 2000 Boston Marathon, a photo finish gave him the same time as the winner.
The first man ever to win gold at both the Olympics and World Champs, Abera's training and racing have been interrupted the past few years by Achilles problems, which necessitated surgery in the autumn of 2004 and again in 2007. One of eight children from a farming family, Abera enjoyed playing soccer as a child, and often dreamed of becoming a professional “footballer.” While in high school, he also boxed and ran 25K a day roundtrip to school and back, rather than board like most students there, so he could help on the farm. He is married to Elfenesh Alemu, a 2004 Olympian, two-time runner-up in the Boston Marathon and winner of the 2003 Tokyo International Women’s Marathon.