Ethiopian junior cross country champion Werkitu Ayanu bounced back to form by winning the 5000m at the 23rd MOHA Addis Ababa Club Championships in Addis Ababa (7-16 April).
Other highlights of the championships include Mestawot Tadesse's 800m/1500m double, while Prisons club runner Genet Teka inflicted perhaps the biggest shock by beating Derebe Alemu over the 10,000m race.
Ayanu back in form
With Ethiopia's top track runners electing to save themselves for the Ethiopian Championships at the end of the month, the field was generally devoid of big name stars. However, it presented a chance to young and upcoming runners to emerge from the shadows of their illustrious compatriots and make a mark at the second most important track meet in the Ethiopian athletics calendar.
One such runner was Werkitu Ayanu, sixth place finisher in the junior race at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Fukuoka earlier this month, who took the opportunity with both hands to take victory over Mestawot Tufa, another of Ethiopia's team members from the championships in the southern Japanese city.
Ayanu, who finished fourth in last year's Ethiopian championships 10,000m race and running for the Ethiopian Banks sports club, chose the shorter 5000m race for the Addis Ababa club championships. But there was little doubting who would win the contest at the last lap when she sped past Tufa and clubmate Belaynesh Zemedkun (fifth junior race in Fukuoka) for a commanding victory.
Tadesse doubles up again
Mestawot Tadesse's reign as arguably Ethiopia's most versatile and top middle distance runner continued with another clinically-executed 800m/1500m double. The 23-year old, who had qualified for the 1500m races at the 10th IAAF World Championships in Helsinki and the 11th IAAF World Indoor Championships in Moscow, was a comfortable winner ahead of Zeytuna Arebo over the 1500m, while tempting Gezashign Hundesa to a sprint finish over two laps.
Teka shocks Alemu over 10,000m
While the other women's middle distance races went according to the pre-race billing, Genet Teka provided the best surprise of the championships by taking victory over Derebe Alemu, one of only seven women athletes in the top 100 for the 5000m/10,000m/cross country of the IAAF World Rankings. Alemu, who was the fifth fastest Ethiopian over the distance in 2006, had been in contention early on, but could not watch the diminutive Teka's finish crossing the finish line a massive seven seconds adrift of her challenger.
There were also plenty of surprises in the men's 5000m race as Maeregu Zewde, the reigning African champion over the distance, was beaten to third place by Dereje Tadesse and Sahle Warga.
The 24-year old, who had missed nearly the entire track season in 2005 with a career-threatening knee injury, had hoped to reestablish himself among the top 5000m runners in Ethiopia.
But after looking comfortable on the last lap against mediocre opposition, Zewde was caught napping by both Tadesse and Warga as they gained the initiative with 20m to go to inflict probably the biggest shock of the nine-day competition.
Abshiro's first track win
Normal services were however resumed in the men's 10,000m as Tessema Abshiro, one of the pacemakers in Haile Gebrselassie's world half marathon record run* in Arizona in January, overcame strong opposition to take his first domestic senior title.
Abshiro, who was a member of the Ethiopian team medal squads in the 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005 editions of the World Cross Country Championships, was made to sweat by Abebe Hunde before clinching a gun-to-tape victory in 29:30.59, thirty-hundredths of a second faster than Hunde.
The best from the rest
In the other competitions, Wetere Gelelcha, African junior 100m silver medalist, demonstrated once again why he is the top Ethiopian sprinter with a triple (100m, 200m, and 4X100m relay) win. He was one of four other athletes who also won triples with Emebet Tilahun (4X100m, Triple Jump, and Long Jump), Tigist Getnet (100m Hurdles, 400m Hurdles, and High Jump), and Zeyneba Zeyno (Long Jump, Triple Jump, and 4X100m relay) all winning special prizes for their three victories.
Ethiopian Banks club runner Abaynesh Sisay also made a name for herself by breaking the Addis Ababa stadium record for the Javelin record that had stood for fifteen years.
* pending ratification
Elshadai Negash for the IAAF
All events hand-timed, wind readings for sprints and jumps not available
1. Wetere Gelelcha (Ethiopian Banks) 10.59
2. Mohammed Mesbah (Prisons) 10.63
3.Tadesse Alemu (Defense) 10.87
1. Wetere Gelelcha (Ethiopian Banks)
1. Zemenu Kassa (Defense) 47:50
2. Endale Ledamo (Defense) 47:82
1. Berhanu Alemu (Eth Banks) 1:46.72
2. Eshetu Zewdu (Defense) 1:49.11
3. Dem-melash Omedla (Omedla) 1:51.20
1. Adugna Assefa (Prisons) 3:44.38
2. Abiyot Abebe (Defense) 3:44.48
3. Seifu Nebse (Ethiopian Banks) 3:44.95
1. Dereje Tadesse (Defense) 14:18.80
2. Sahle Warga (Omedla) 14:19.12
3. Maeregu Zewde (Eth Banks) 14:19.78
1. Tessema Abshiro (Eth Banks) 29:30.59
2. Abebe Hunde (Defense) 29:30.89
3. Chala Leme (Ethiopian Banks) 29:32.04
1. Eskias Sisay (Eth Banks) 8:42.77
2. Abraham Kabeto (Eth Banks) 8:56.16
3. Yacob Jarso (Prisons) 8:59.23
1. Habtamu Fasil (Defense) 14:88
1. Tamerat Teklu (Prisons) 52.49
1. Ashenafi Mercha (Prisons)
1. Anteneh Tameru (Defense) 67.43
1. Girmay Gebretsadik (Defense) 7.21m
1. Ejelu Ato (Defense) 1.95m
1. Galwak Garkot (Defense) 14.62m
1. Mertnesh Tesfa (Prisons) 12.39
2. Leaynet Alemu (Eth Banks) 12.42
1. Atkilt Wubshet (Ethiopian Banks) 24.79
1. Abebe Megersa (Prisons) 56.61
1. Mestawot Tadesse (Eth Banks) 2:05.45
2. Gezashign Hundesa (Eth Banks) 2:07.80
3. Shura Hutessa (Prisons) 2:09.30
1. Mestawot Tadesse (Eth Banks) 4:30.29
2. Zeytuna Arebo (Prisons) 4:31.42
3. Mahlet Melese (Eth Banks) 4:31.84
1. Mahlet Melese (Rental Houses) 9:37.87
2. Frehiwot Goshu (Prisons) 9:39.49
3. Mekeda Haroun (Prisons) 9:40.91
1. Werkitu Ayanu (Eth Banks) 16:00.39
2. Mestawot Tufa (Omedla) 16:02.64
3. Belaynesh Zemedkun (Eth Banks) 16:16.83
1. Genet Teka (Prisons) 34:55.29
2. Derebe Alemu (Prisons) 35:02.10
3. Abebu Gela (Ethiopian Banks) 35:36.85
1. Asnakech Ararsa (Prisons)