Elvan Abeylegesse (also formerly: Hewan Abeye (Amharic) and Elvan Can (Turkish)) (born September 11, 1982) is a Turkish middle and long distance track and field athlete, running in the disciplines of 1500 m, 3000 m and 5000 m, but also 10000 m, 2 miles and cross country. She was once ranked 7th in the world, and held the record for 5000m, at 14:24.68.
She 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, Hewan started for the Ethiopian junior team at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Belfast, Northern Ireland and finished 9th. 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 got married and became Elvan Can. Since then, she has divorced and is now called Elvan Abeylegesse.
“As a youngster, my heroes were Ethiopian runners. I would follow the victories of Gete Wami particularly”, Elvan 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”, Elvan 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.” Her 'defection' has remained an anomaly in the eyes of many Ethiopian athletic fans.
At the Evergood Bergen Bislett Games in Norway on June 11, 2004, the sixth meeting of TDK Golden League, Elvan Abeylegesse broke the women’s 5000 m world record, which had belonged to the little-known Chinese Jiang Bo since 1997 (14:28.09), improving the mark by over three seconds to 14:24.68. With the strain of her effort visibly apparent, the thunderous roar of the capacity crowd of 15,000 pushed her to this record while she was competing against Ethiopian running giants. 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."
By breaking the 5000 m World record, Elvan Abeylegesse has achieved also a historic performance in running, because she is now faster than a running legend. It was almost exactly 80 years ago when the famous Paavo Nurmi ran 14:28.2 for a world record. Elvan Abeylegesse now is the first woman to have run faster than the Finn.
Abeylegesse has been a scholarship holder with the Olympic Solidarity program since August 2002.
WR World record, ER European Record, NR National record, PB Personal best.
|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|
|10000 m||29:56:34||Beijing, China||August 15, 2008|
|1500 m||3:50:46||Beijing, China||September 13, 1993||Qu Yunxia, China|
|2000 m||5:25:36||Edinburgh, United Kingdom||July 8, 1994||Sonia O'Sullivan, Ireland|
|3000 m||8:06:11||Beijing, China||September 13, 1993||Wang Junxia, China|
|5000 m||14:11:15||Oslo||June 6, 2008||Tirunesh Dibaba, Ethiopia|
|10000 m||29:31:78||Beijing, China||September 8, 1993||Wang Junxia, China|
|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, The 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|
The day she broke the world record rewarded her with a new life of luxuries. After becoming the first Turkish track and field athlete in history to set a world record, the multi-millionaire president of her running club, honored her achievement by offering her the use of his private jet. She no more has to rush to the airport to take the 6:30 flight back home. She gives her private press conference at the hotel she is staying, then goes out for a little site visit, and packs her bags, including a 50,000 euros bonus for her effort, to take a private jet flight back home.