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Bekele to defend world title despite year out

By Gene Cherry

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters) - Ethiopian Olympic and world champion Kenenisa Bekele will defend his 10,000 meters world title later this month despite not having raced since early 2010, his manager said Tuesday.

"He is going to Daegu and (will) run. He is training well," Jos Hermens told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Bekele, 29, has never lost a 10,000 race on the track but his lack of competitive action means he will be under added pressure at the August 27-September 4 worlds in Daegu, South Korea .

His 12 victories at the distance since 2003 include two Olympic and four world titles along with two world records.

If Bekele wins in Daegu, he would become the first runner at any distance to win five consecutive outdoor world titles.

Only pole vaulter Sergei Bubka has more, claiming six in a row competing for the Soviet Union and Ukraine in the 1980s and '90s.

Bekele ruptured a muscle in his right calf in February 2010 and has not raced since because of a variety of problems. His last race was in January of last year.

"He is quite fit but it is difficult to say what will happen, even for me, because he has not raced," said Hermens, a former world class runner.

Bekele was assured of wild-card spots as the world champion at 5,000 and 10,000 but whether he competes in both will be determined by how well he runs over the longer distance.

"Once it goes well, you never know, he might do everything. He has surprised me so many times," Hermens said.

(Editing by Ken Ferris)

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