He is the most accomplished runner in IAAF World Cross Country Championships history, with six long (12 km) course and five short (4 km) course titles. He won the 10,000 m title at the World Championships in Athletics four times running from 2003 to 2009 (matching Haile Gebrselassie's win streak). Kenenisa was unbeaten over 10,000 m from his debut in 2003 until 2011, when he failed to finish at the World Championships final.
At the 2009 World Championships in Athletics he became the first man to win both 5000 m and 10,000 m title at the same championships. Over 5000 m he has also won an Olympic silver (2004), World Championship bronze (2003), two African Championship titles and one All-Africa Games gold medal. He also won the 3000 metres title at the World Indoor Championships in 2006.
Kenenisa is considered one of the greatest distance runners of all time, owning several world records and an array of medals. On 6 April 2014, he produced the sixth fastest marathon debut ever on a record eligible course with his victory at the Paris Marathon, in a course record time of 2:05:04. He is the older brother of Tariku Bekele, also an accomplished world-class distance runner.