Born: April 18, 1973 in Arssi, Ethiopia
Regarded as the greatest men's distance runner ever after setting 27 world records.
After finishing behind Kenyan Ismael Kirui at two successive world junior cross country championships, won the 1992 title.
Won the first of his four consecutive world 10,000 metres titles at the 1993 Stuttgart championships.
Set his first world record over 5,000 metres in Hengelo, Netherlands, 1995. In the next year he broke the 10,000 mark.
Won the first of his two Olympic 10,000 titles at the 1996 Atlanta Games and in the following year took 6.76 seconds off the world 10,000 record in Oslo.
Held off his great rival Paul Tergat of Kenya in a thrilling sprint finish to win the Sydney 10,000 title.
Finished third on his senior marathon debut in the 2002 London race and, after missing the northern summer season through injury, set a world 10-km road record in Doha.
Won the 2005 Amsterdam marathon.
Broke Tergat's world marathon record of 2:04:55, set in 2003, with 2:04:26 at the 2007 Berlin marathon.
In the following year he clocked 2:04:53 in Dubai before reducing his world mark to 2:03:59 in Berlin.