Elvan Abeylegesse

Elvan Abeylegesse, (also formerly: Hewan Abeye (አልቫን አበይለገሠ, Amharic) and Elvan Can (Turkish); born September 11, 1982) is an Ethiopian-born naturalized Turkish middle and long-distance running athlete who competes over distances from 1500 metres up to the marathon, and also in cross country. She is the former world record-holder for the 5000 metres, at 14:24.68 minutes.

Elvan Abeylegesse
Elvan Abeylegesse 2010 European Team Championships.jpg
Elvan Abeylegesse
Personal information
Born (1982-09-11) 11 September 1982 (age 38)
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Height1.59 m (5.2 ft)[1]
Weight40 kg (88 lb)[1]
Event(s)5000 metres, 10,000 metres
ClubEnkaspor Athletics Team
Coached byCarol Santa
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)5000m: 14:24.68
10000m: 29:56.34

In August 2015, the Turkish Athletics Federation confirmed that an anti-doping test taken during the 2007 World Championships in Athletics had been retested and found to be positive for a controlled substance, and that the athlete had been temporarily suspended pending retesting of her 'B-sample'. If confirmed, Abeylegesse stood to lose her 2007 medal, and possibly other awards from that date.[2] On 29 March 2017, IAAF confirmed the positive test, expunged her results from 25 August 2007 until 25 August 2009 (thereby stripping her of the two silver medals she had won at the 2008 Olympic Games), and banned her from athletics for two years.[3]

Early life and careerEdit

Abeylegesse was born Hewan Abeye on September 11, 1982 in Addis Ababa, 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. Coming to 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 is now called 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.”

Career highlightsEdit

Abeylegesse’s career in the international arena began at the age of 18 in Grosseto, Italy in 2001 by winning the European 3000 m and 5000 m titles, setting a national record for Turkey. She became a world leader with a time of 8:31:94 in the 3000 m in Brussels, Belgium in 2002 and with a time of 3:58.38 in the 1500 m 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 m world record, which had belonged to Chinese runner Jiang Bo since 1997 (14:28.09), improving the mark by over three seconds to 14:24.68.[4] 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.[5]

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.[6]

She was the 2010 recipient of the Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy, an annual award given by the International Fair Play Committee. She had lent a pair of running shoes to competitor Meselech Melkamu just moments before the beginning of the 10,000 metres final at the 2009 World Championships in Athletics. Having forgotten to bring her shoes to the track, Melkamu went on to take the silver.[7]

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 woman 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.[8]

At the 2010 European Athletics Championships, Abeylegesse won gold in the 10,000 m, finishing in 31 minutes, 10.23 seconds On 28 July 2010,[9] and she won the silver medal in 5000m finishing in 14 minutes, 54.44 seconds on 1 August 2010.[10] She narrowly missed out on a medal at the 2010 IAAF Continental Cup, finishing two seconds behind Molly Huddle in the 5000 m.

She returned to action in 2012 after her pregnancy and made her debut over 20 km, finishing as runner-up at the 20 Kilomètres de Paris.[11] She was also runner-up in the 15K section of the Istanbul Eurasia Marathon. She won the Nice Half Marathon in April 2013.[12] On November 17, 2013 she became runner-up in the women's category at the Istanbul Marathon with a time of 2:29:30.[13]

Personal lifeEdit

Abeylegesse married her longtime partner Semeneh Debelie in February 2011 and decided to take the season off due to pregnancy.[14] In July 2011, she gave birth to a girl named Arsema.[15]

International competitionsEdit

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing   Turkey
1999 World Cross Country Championships Belfast, Northern Ireland 9th Junior race 22:03
World Youth Championships Bydgoszcz, Poland 5th 3000 metres 9:08.29
European Junior Championships Riga, Latvia 2nd 5000 metres 16:06.40
2000 World Cross Country Championships Vilamoura, Portugal 90th Short race 14:30
World Junior Championships Santiago, Chile 6th 3000m 9:28.20
6th 5000m 16:33.77
2001 World Cross Country Championships Ostend, Netherlands 22nd Junior race 23:30
European Junior Championships Grosseto, Italy 1st 3000 metres 8:53.42
1st 5000 metres 15:21.12
World Championships Edmonton, Canada 8th (heats) 5000 metres 15:22.89
Mediterranean Games Tunis, Tunisia 3rd 10,000 metres 32:29.20
European Cross Country Championships Thun, Switzerland 1st Junior race 10:35
2002 European Championships Munich, Germany 7th 5000 metres 15:24.41
IAAF Grand Prix Final Paris, France 8th 3000 metres 9:01.50
European Cross Country Championships Medulin, Croatia 3rd Junior race 20:19
2003 European U23 Championships Bydgoszcz, Poland 1st 5000m 15:16.79
World Championships Paris, France 5th 5000 metres 14:53.56
IAAF World Athletics Final Monaco 1st 5000m 14:56.25
2004 European Champion Clubs' Cup Moscow, Russia 1st 1500 metres 3:58.28
European Cup Istanbul, Turkey 1st 3000 metres 8:49.14
Olympic Games Athens, Greece 8th 1500 metres 4:00.67
12th 5000 metres 15:12.64
IAAF World Athletics Final Monaco 1st 5000m 14:59.19
2006 European Championships Gothenburg, Sweden 3rd 5000 metres 14:59.29
2007 World Championships Osaka, Japan DSQ 10,000 metres 31:59.40
2008 Olympic Games Beijing, China DSQ 5000 metres 15:42.74
DSQ 10,000 metres 29:56.34
2009 Mediterranean Games Pescara, Italy DSQ 10,000 metres 31:51.98
2010 European Championships Barcelona, Spain 1st 5000 metres 14:54.44
1st 10,000 metres 31:10.23
2013 Mediterranean Games Mersin, Turkey 2nd 10,000 meters 32:59.30


World recordsEdit

Personal bestsEdit

Discipline Performance Place Date
1500 m 3:58:28 Moscow, Russia May 30, 2004
2000 m 5:33:83 İstanbul, Turkey June 7, 2003
3000 m 8:31:94 Brussels, Belgium August 30, 2002
5000 m 14:24:68 Bergen, Norway June 11, 2004
10,000 m 29:56:34 Beijing, China August 15, 2008

Performance progressionEdit

Discipline Season Performance Place Date
1500 m 2004 3:58:28 Moscow, Russia May 30, 2004
1500 m 2003 4:07:25 Beograd, Serbia May 25, 2003
1500 m 2002 4:11:00 İzmir, Turkey May 11, 2002
1500 m 2001 4:11:31 Istanbul, Turkey July 28, 2001
2000 m 2003 5:33:83 Istanbul, Turkey June 7, 2003
3000 m 2004 8:35:83 Doha, Qatar May 14, 2004
3000 m 2003 8:42:29 İzmir, Turkey May 11, 2003
3000 m 2002 8:31:94 Brussels, Belgium August 30, 2002
3000 m 2001 8:53:42 Grosseto, Italy July 21, 2001
3000 m 2000 9:08:07 İzmir, Turkey May 21, 2000
3000 m 1999 9:08:29 Bydgoszcz, Poland July 17, 1999
5000 m 2004 14:24:68 Bergen, Norway June 11, 2004
5000 m 2003 14:53:56 Paris, France August 30, 2003
5000 m 2002 15:00:49 Hengelo, Netherlands June 2, 2002
5000 m 2001 15:21:12 Grosseto, Italy July 20, 2001
5000 m 2000 16:33:77 Santiago de Chile, Chile October 17, 2000
5000 m 1999 16:06:20 Riga, Latvia August 7, 1999
10000 m 2008 29:56.34 Beijing, China August 15, 2008
10000 m 2006 30:21.67 Antalya, Turkey April 15, 2006
10000m 2001 32:29:20 Tunis, Tunisia September 12, 2001

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Athletes-Abeylegesse Elvan TUR". IAAF. Retrieved 12 August 2010.
  2. ^ "Elvan Abeylegesse tests positive". Turkish Athletics. 13 August 2015. Archived from the original on 16 August 2015. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  3. ^ IAAF March 2017 Newsletter
  4. ^ "Abeylegesse obliterates the women's 5000m World record in Bergen – TDK Golden League". IAAF. 11 June 2004. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  5. ^ Morse, Parker Morse (3 June 2006). "Meseret Defar runs 5000m World Record in New York – 14:24.53". IAAF. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  6. ^ Krishnan, Ram. Murali (18 May 2008). "Tadese the men's 10km victor, while Abeylegesse and Momanyi share women's spoils in Bangalore". IAAF. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  7. ^ "Fair play to Abeylegesse!". IAAF. 19 January 2010. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  8. ^ Fairlie, Greg (19 February 2010). "Stunning 1:07:07 Half Marathon debut by Abeylegesse Ras Al Khaimah". IAAF. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  9. ^ Hunke, David (28 July 2010). "Abeylegesse of Turkey wins 10,000 at Europeans". USA Today. Gannett Company. Retrieved 28 July 2010.
  10. ^ Hunke, David (1 August 2010). "Turkey's Bekele wins women's 5,000 at Europeans". USA Today. Gannett Company. Retrieved 1 August 2010.
  11. ^ Vazel, Pierre-Jean (14 October 2012). "Nizigiymana and Jerotich battle the rain en route to Paris 20K wins". IAAF. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  12. ^ April 2013 Results. AIMS. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
  13. ^ "35th Vodafone Istanbul Marathon 2013-Marathon Overall Results" (PDF). Istanbul Marathon. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 November 2013. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  14. ^ "Congratulations to Elvan Abeylegesse and Jonna Tilgner". European Athletics. 22 April 2011. Archived from the original on 2 May 2011. Retrieved 23 April 2011.
  15. ^ "Milliyet - Elvan anne oldu". Spor.milliyet.com.tr. 29 July 2011. Retrieved 6 October 2012.[permanent dead link]

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Jiang Bo
Women's 5000 m World Record Holder
June 11, 2004 – June 3, 2006
Succeeded by
Meseret Defar
Preceded by
Olga Yegorova
Women's 5000 m European Record Holder
June 11, 2004 – July 19, 2008
Succeeded by
Liliya Shobukhova
Preceded by
Paula Radcliffe
Women's 10,000 m European Record Holder
August 15, 2008 –
Succeeded by
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Berhane Adere
Women's 5000 m Best Year Performance
Succeeded by
Meseret Defar