Pre-race favourite Senbere Teferi was an impressive winner of the women’s 5000m title on the third day of action at the Ethiopian Championships on Friday (28).
On another day filled with heats in the short and middle-distance events, men’s 10,000m winner Belete Assefa remained on course for a 5000m/10,000m double by qualifying fastest to Sunday’s 5000m final.
Teferi storms past Aga and Haroye
With Olympic 5000m champion Meseret Defar and World record-holder Tirunesh Dibaba skipping the championships to instead run the world’s first and second fastest 10,000m times in Sollentuna and Ostrava respectively last night (27), the outcome of the race was less predictable.
Alemitu Haroye had qualified fastest from the semi-finals on Wednesday, but Senbere Teferi, on her national championships 5000m debut, also came into the race with a reputation to protect following victories at the 2013 Confidence Women First 5km in March and the national junior championships in April where she convincingly won the 1500m title.
Both athletes, along with youngsters Ruti Aga and Azmera Gebru, were in contention for the top spot from the early stages of the race with Aga moving to the front of the pack after five laps when the pace in the early stages started to stagnate.
After several exchanges of the lead between Aga, Haroye, Teferi, and Gebru, the leading pack was reduced three runners at the tenth lap with Roman Gidey joined Teferi and Haroye. The trio remained together until the last 150m when Haroye’s challenge faded.
A ferocious sprint battle ensued between Teferi and Gidey, but Teferi used her 1500m sprint experience to take victory in 16:20.99 ahead of Gidey (16:21.49) with Haroye closing out the medal places in 16:25.99.
Victory was a small consolation for Teferi who had been slated to compete over the 1500m in Ostrava, but could not travel after her visa application did not come through in time.
“Last year I won the 1500m title and this was my debut 5000m race,” said Teferi. “I wasn't prepared for this race because my aim was to run in Ostrava, but I couldn’t get my visa and ticket on time so I just came here to participate in the 1500m. After a discussion with my club coach, I suddenly opted to try the 5000m.
“When I ran in the semi-final, my expectation was to simply qualify for the final and so I was happy to win it. This was an unexpected victory. If I am able to get the standard for Moscow, I want to run the 1500m.”
Hawi and Assefa lead qualifiers
Men’s 10,000m champion Belete Assefa remained on course for a distance double by qualifying fastest from the 5000m semifinals on Friday, beating top names like 2008 African bronze medallist Ali Abdosh, youngsters Gemechu Idao, Tigabu Gebremariam, and Yitayal Atnafu.
World Cross junior representative Alemitu Hawi clocked 4:21.36 to qualify fastest to the women’s 1500m final.
Elshadai Negash (with the assistance of Bizuayehu Wagaw) for the IAAF
LEADING RESULTS (28 June)
1 Senbere Teferi 16:20.99
2 Roman Gidey 16:21.49
3 Alemitu Haroye 16:25.99