World Championships medallists Ibrahim Jeilan and Almaz Ayana were among the high-profile winners at the Ethiopian Championships at the Addis Ababa stadium last week (10-15 June).
But the championships also saw some major shocks as steeplechaser Etenesh Diro, middle distance runners Fantu Magiso and Mantegbosh Melese lost their specialty events.
Jeilan, Ayana, and Wote convince in domestic return
The championships attracted a number of Ethiopia’s World Championships level athletes as the event will be used as one of the selection criteria to pick the country’s team for the African Championships in Marrakesh later this summer.
The star cast here was led by Ibrahim Jeilan, the 2011 world 10,000m champion and reigning silver medallist in the same event, who stepped down in distance to compete in the 5000m.
The 25-year-old may have failed to finish his marathon debut in London in April this year, but showed here that he has lost none of the finishing prowess that saw him overtake Britain’s world and Olympic 5000m and 10,000m champion Mo Farah in the closing stages of the 2011 World Championships in Daegu.
Running against a number of young hopefuls and marathon runner Ayele Abshiro, Jeilan bode his time in the middle of a trotting pack for the first half of the race. Jeilan moved to the back of the pack when Abshiro dropped out of the race after ten laps, but gradually started to move to the front at the bell before outkicking Moges Tiumay and Berhanu Tadele to take victory in 14:02.52.
“[Coming from the marathon] the race was not that fast,” he said after his victory. “But it was not easy either. I am glad for the victory.”
World 5000m bronze medallist Almaz Ayana was even more impressive in her first national championships since switching from the steeplechase. The 22-year-old hit the front after just two laps and continued to increase her lead until the last lap. But a momentary lapse allowed long-time trailer Kidsan Alema to close the gap and give Ayana a nervous end to the race. Ayana managed to hold on to victory in 16:11.40 ahead of Alema (16:13.48) with Letesenbet Gidey a distant third in 16:19.30.
Two months after breaking the 10-year-old national 1500m record, world indoor silver medallist Aman Wote survived a major scare on the way to defending his title. The 30-year old looked doubtful to even line up in the final after limping out having won his heat. But a conservative run was enough to give him victory in 3:38.18 ahead of Tesfaye Cheru and Bekele Gutema.
The most dominant performance of the championship, however, was from world junior 5000m silver medallist Genet Yalew, who dominated the women’s 10,000m before taking victory in 32:45.09, a massive 21 seconds ahead of runner-up Tigist Abaychew.
Diro, Magiso, Melese all suffer surprise defeats
There were plenty of upsets in the championships as some of Ethiopia’s major championship team members fell to upcoming stars in shock defeats.
The biggest came in the women’s 3000m steeplechase where Etenesh Diro, fifth at the 2013 World Championships and sixth at the 2012 Olympics, lost to Tigist Getnet, whose major achievements so far in her career is an eighth-place finish at last year’s national championships.
Getnet clocked 10:00.2 after a storming last-lap battle with her experienced compatriot to take victory with Zewdnesh Ayele a distant third in 10:14.6.
Fantu Magiso has been Ethiopia’s rising star in the middle distance since her 1:57.48 national 800m record in 2012. But her decision to step down to the 400m, the event that saw her win the African junior title in 2011, resulted in her first defeat on home soil since 2009.
Into the bargain, Magiso had to watch as her national record was broken with winner Genet Lire clocking 51.44, aided by the altitude of Ethiopia’s capital city. Magiso clocked 53.35, holding off Chaltu Shume (53.90) to secure second place.
Mantegbosh Melese may have replaced Magiso as the favourite in the women’s 800m, but the defending champion could not hold off the impressive Zeytuna Mohammed, who took victory in 2:01.55.
And the presence of stellar names like 2010 world junior champion Yegrem Demelash and 2010 Great Ethiopian Run winner Azmeraw Bekele did not faze Adugna Tekele, who looked impressive on the way to the men’s 10,000m title, winning in 28:46.42.
Elshadai Negash (with the assistance of Bizuayehu Wagaw)
1 Haji Ture 46.01
2 Kenenisa Hailu 46.67
3 Gebre Gelelcha 46.72
1 Jena Omer 1:47.00
2 Bacha Morka 1:47.10
3 Mengstu Terecha 1:47.29
1 Aman Wote 3:38.18
2 Tesfaye Cheru 3:39.33
3 Bekele Gutema 3:39.92
1 Ibrahim Jeilan 14:02.52
2 Moges Tiumay 14:04.12
3 Brhanu Tadele 14:05.99
1 Adugna Tekele 28:46.42
2 Tsebelu Zewde 28:48.87
3 Azmeraw Bekele 29:03.44
3000m steeplechase (15)
1 Nesredin Deche 8:47.95
2 Tafese Seboka 8:48.45
3 Chalu Bayu 8:49.75
1 Genet Lire 51.44
2Fantu Magiso 53.35
3Chaltu Shume 53.90
1 Zeytuna Mohammed 2:01.55
2 Mantegbosh Melese 2:01.86
3 Basu Sada 2:02.52
1 Basu Sado 4:13.34
2 Kokeb Tesfaye 4:14.30
3 Kalkidan Tibesa 4:15.65
1 Almaz Ayana 16:11.40
2 Kidsan Alema 16:13.48
3 Letesenbet Gidey 16:19.30
1 Genet Yalew 32.45.09
2 Tigist Abaychew 33:06.75
3 Dinknesh Mekasha 33:38.59
3000m steeplechase (11)
1 Tigist Getnet 10:00.2
2 Etenesh Diro 10:01.3
3 Zewdnesh Ayele 10:14.6