World Championship 10,000m double silver medallist Sileshi Sihine for the men and former World and double Olympic 10,000m champion Derartu Tulu for the women will lead Ethiopia’s squad in the 14th IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Edmonton, Canada, 1 October 2005.
However, since selection Berhane Adere, the former World Half Marathon and 10,000m champion, has withdrawn from the team for undisclosed reasons.
MEN - Sihine and Dinkessa lead the challenge
After subdued trials in August where Solomon Tsige successful defended the title he won last year, Ethiopian hopes for Edmonton have been lifted with the inclusion of Sileshi Sihine.
Sihine, who has the second fastest time over 15km and has twice been a podium finisher in the Great Ethiopian 10km road race in Ethiopia, will be lining up for his first international race over the half marathon distance. The 21.1km distance is the one at which he started his career four years ago in a World Tourism Day Run in Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia has not won a men’s individual medal since Haile Gebrselassie’s win in the 2001 edition of the championships in Bristol, UK, but with Sihine’s inclusion they will hope to reverse those fortunes.
Abebe Dinkessa will also be expected to be at his best in the Canadian city.
The 21-year old has made remarkable strides in his career since finishing 10th in last year’s World Half Marathon in New Delhi, including 26:30.74 for second place over 10,000m in Hengelo to confirm his place in Ethiopia’s team for the World Championships in Helsinki where he finished a respectable 7th.
Both runners were in action over the weekend at the World Athletics Final where Sihine won a tactical 5000m race, ahead of Dinkessa who only managed ninth.
Apart from the duo, Solomon Tsige will compete for the third successive year and will be hoping to improve on his fifth place finish last year in New Delhi. Lishan Yegezu, Raja Assefa, and Nassir Abdissa all take part in their first championships.
WOMEN - Tulu gives stature and Hashim adds fresh blood to team
Former World Half Marathon champion Berhane Adere had been included in the original selection of twelve athletes, but the 2003 world 10,000m champion has since been withdrawn from the team for undisclosed reasons.
But even in her absence, Ethiopia will take one of its strongest teams to the World Half Marathon, led by Derartu Tulu.
The 33-year old finished fourth in the World Championships Marathon in Helsinki, and has run nine full marathons, including wins in major city marathons like London and Tokyo. She is also a previous winner of the Lisbon Half Marathon.
Apart from Tulu, Ethiopia will be represented by Merima Hashim who is now fully recovered from a career-threatening injury. The 22-year old narrowly missed qualification for Ethiopia’s 10,000m team in Helsinki and looked to be in good shape during the trials which she comfortably won.
Eyerusalem Kuma is another seasoned campaigner over the half marathon having finished sixth last year in New Delhi. Adanech Zekiros will be running in her third World Half Marathon Championships, while Le’tay Negash is Adere’s replacement in a strong women’s squad of five runners.
Elshadai Negash for the IAAF
Ethiopian team for the 13th IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Edmonton, Canada