Almaz Ayana was a comfortable winner of the women’s 3000m Steeplechase title on the fourth day of action at the 42nd Ethiopian championships in Assela on Saturday (29).
Ayana, the former World junior record holder, applied same tactics she used in her semi-final by starting the race in front and not allowing any of her competitors to take the lead until she stopped the clock in 10:02.55 for the win.
Netsanet Achamo eventually finished a distant second in 10:19.00, more than 16 seconds behind the race winner.
“I had finished third in the 2011 edition and so I am glad to have won it [national title] this year,” said a delighted Ayana. “Today's race was fine, but I think the weather at this new sports ground was a bit difficult. I will run in some Diamond League races and hope to get the time to participate in Moscow."
With national record holder Sofia Assefa, 2013 IAAF World Cross Country Championships silver medalist Hiwot Ayalew, and African junior silver medalist Etenesh Diro all skipping the championships and ahead of her in the 2013 Ethiopian lists, that task will not be easy for the newly-minted national champion.
In the men 1500m, 17-year-old Yenew Tebikew was the fastest qualifier for Sunday’s men’s 1500m final with a time of 3:43.64, and give warning that he might be a factor at next month's IAAF World Youth Championships in Donetsk.
In the day's opening track race, Konjit Teshome won the women’s 100m Hurdles title in 14:85 and Behailu Alemshet took the men’s 110m Hurdles titles in 14:47.
The championships have lost some of their competitive edge this year with the country’s top athletes instead electing to chase qualifying times overseas as opposed to competing in what was originally scheduled to be trials races.
“This is usual to what we used to do before. Nowadays, it is difficult to find long distance races especially 5000m and 10000m so our athletes must use these rare chances in Europe, as the geographical condition in Addis or Assela will not allow them to compete and get the required minima,” commented Ethiopian Athletics Federation technical director Dube Jilo.
“As our government is giving a great attention for sport in general, including athletics, there will be a standard tracks in the cities at low altitude. We hope the Bahir Dar one will be ready for next year. So in the near future most probably starting from next year the current system will be changed."
Elshadai Negash (with the assistance of Bizuayehu Wagaw) for the IAAF
LEADING RESULTS (29 June)
Men 110m Hurdles
1. Behailu Alemshet 14:47
2. Ubang Abaya 14:72
3. Mezmur Hailemariyam 14:99
Women 3000m Steeplechase
1. Almaz Ayana 10:02.55
2. Netsanet Achamo 10:19.00
3. Mekdes Bekele 10:25.83
Women 100m Hurdles
1. Konjit Teshome 14:85
2. Mihret Tamirat 15:24
3. Etenesh Gebremichael 15:78