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Addis Ababa, EthiopiaNewcomers Buze Driba and Muktar Endris were among the impressive winners in the women’s and men’s 5000m as the 41st Ethiopian Athletics Championships (May 9th-13th 2012) came to a close on Sunday (13) at the Addis Ababa stadium.
Despite the absence of Ethiopia’s more illustrious track runners, the championships saw the rise of young stars in the middle and long distance events as the battle to earn qualification to Ethiopia’s London 2012 team gathered momentum.
Driba, Endris take 5000m crowns
While Ethiopia does not use trials to determine the composition of its Olympic team, the championships in Addis Ababa were an opportunity for upcoming runners to make a good impression of their credentials in order to earn invitation to compete in the international track season.
And youngsters Driba and Endris probably 'sealed the deal’ with impressive performances in the 5000m. In the women’s 5000m, Driba swapped the lead with the more experience Alemitu Haroye for the lion’s share of the twelve-and-half-lap race before moving clear at 800 metres and holding on for victory in 16:14.70.
"It was the first time [for me] to run in the National championship and today's race was easy," said a delighted Driba after victory. "In the future, I want to improve my time."
The men’s 5000m was a very tightly-knit affair with a large group in contention until the final 400 metres, but Endris’ strategy of staying in the middle of this large group paid off when he shook off a tight challenge before crossing the line in a winning time of 14:04.00.
"I missed last year’s championships because I was preparing for Botswana [African Juniors]," commented the race winner. "I made my national championships debut with a good win today. All of use kept watching each other and that was why the winning time was very slow. But I am glad to win this stiff competition in the final lap."
In the day’s other top race, Abiyot Abenet took the men’s 1500m in a spirited sprint finish, while Senbere Teferi dominated the women’s corresponding event to take her first national title.
Zewde, Kebede over 10,000m
The 10,000m has always been one of the star attractions of the annual championships in the Ethiopian capital. This year, it again produced two thrilling races that brought down the house at the Addis Ababa stadium and saw a former champion returning to honours.
That former champion was Aberu Kebede, winner of the women’s 10,000m title here in 2009. Since then, however, the 27-year old has moved up to the Marathon with some success, but after failing to break into the Ethiopian marathon for London 2012, her focus has now shifted to making the 10,000m instead.
She did her reputation with the selectors no harm by taking victory over another marathon-cum-track-runner Mamitu Daska.
Daska also caught the eye with her brave front-running early on the race by taking the lead in the first five laps of the contest which turned into a three-horse race after the eight laps when Daska, Kebede, and Meseret Taye opened up a sizeable lead on the chasing pack. The trio continued exchanging the leading positions for the next laps before Taye eased out of title contention just before the front pair hit the halfway point. Daska continued to shadow Kebede for the remainder of the race before the former World half marathon bronze medalist kicked at 200 metres for a deserved victory in 32:48.55 with Daska finishing in 32:54.87.
"I came back from [running the Marathon in] London recently and just trained for two days before I entered this race," Kebede after her victory. "So I did not particularly prepare for this competition but I am glad to have won it."
The lack of star power in the men’s 10,000m race was compensated with sheer unpredictability of the eventual winner from start to finish. Victory went to young runner Tebelu Zewde, who clocked 29:09.00 to take victory ahead of Solomon Deksisa with Gebretsadik Abraha finishing third.
Elshadai Negash (with the assistance of Bizuayehu Wagaw) for the IAAF
Leading Results: MEN - 800m (10) 1. Israel Aweke (Defence) 1:46.48 2. Shiferaw Wele (Defence) 1:46.70 3. Jena Omer (Oromiya Region) 1:47.03