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Addis Ababa, EthiopiaAfrican junior 5000m champion Abera Kuma and African championship 1500m finalist Berutkan Feyisa were among the winners on the last day of the 40th Ethiopian Athletics Championships at the Addis Ababa stadium on Sunday (8).
On a day of surprises, little-known athletes Sisay Korme and Tesfaye Cheru picked up unexpected victories in the men’s 3000m Steeplechase and 1500m respectively.
Kuma takes 5000m victory
Bouncing back from his disqualification at the World Cross Country Championships, Kuma was back to what he does best on Sunday as he completed an inspired return to action with victory in the men’s 5000m. Sensing his moment with the absence of Ethiopia’s top 5000m runners, Kuma took control of the race from the onset and held on to the lead for all but one of the twelve-and-half laps before stopping the clock at 13:40.0, the third fastest time ever at the Addis Ababa stadium.
Much more intriguing was the race behind him for second between newcomers Gemechu Edao and Atsedu Tsegaye with the former winning that particular battle in 13:51.0.
“Last year, I was a runner-up and well prepared for this year to get a good result,” said Kuma. “The competition was fine and I am happy to have won it."
Korme stuns favourites in the men’s Steeplechase
While the men’s 5000m pretty much went according to the form book, the men’s 3000m Steeplechase produced perhaps the shock of the championships with Sisay Korme, a runner from the Oromiya region competing in this first national championships, beat pre-race favorites Legesse Lemiso (2005 World youth 2000m Steeplechase champion) and Nahom Mesfin (All-African Games bronze medallist).
The contest was blown wide open before the start with the news that four-time national champion and national record holder Roba Gari had succumbed to a sudden illness and had opted not to start the race. Lemiso and Mesfin exchanged the lead in the opening laps with Korme, virtually unheard off before winning the heats two days earlier, electing to stay behind the leaders.
Mesfin was the first to show signs of uneasiness when he first dropped back from a leading position before dropping out of the contest at the sixth lap. That decisive move gave Korme the que to tuck just behind leader Lemiso before sprinting clear at the bell. He held his ground for a well-deserved victory in 8:39.0. Lemiso received a double-blow when he lost second place to Ammute Minalu who clocked 8:40.3 to Lamiso’s 8:42.9.
“It is a good advantage to get the opportunity provided by the 20 clubs established recently in Oromiya region,” said the race winner. “I am one of the products of that project and it's my debut on the national championships. In the future, I want to be a 5000m runner."
Cheru takes unexpected men's 1500 win
The day of shocks continued in the men’s 1500m when Tesfaye Cheru, 11th in the junior race in Punta Umbria, emerged as the winner on his national championships debut. Pre-race favorite Aman Wete did much of the early leading hitting the front early on and stubbornly keeping the lead until the last 100 metres. At that point, Cheru, who had been drifting between the inside and outside lanes, sprinted away from a chasing pack of five to take victory in 3:38.86 with Deriba Degefa and Wete finishing second and third respectively.
"I am glad to win on my debut of this championship,” said Cheru. “I have been running the 1500m before at regional level. The uniqueness of today's victory is the time I ran and being able to hold off my competitors. I want to keep up training for this event and specialize in it."
Feyisa wins subdued women’s 1500m
With big names like Genzebe Dibaba, Gelete Burka, and Kalkidan Gezhagne giving this event or the championships a miss, Bertukan Feyisa, seventh in the African Championships 1500m race, won comfortably. The 20-year old hit the front at the bell and held on with comfort to win in 4:14.80, a massive six seconds ahead of Genet Tibeso and Feyna Gudato.
"I am the only one who competed this year among the athletes who run it last year,” confirmed the race winner. “I prepared very well and the race was not that much stressful. In the future, I want to get a better time in this distance."
Elshadai Negash (with the assistance of Bizuayehu Wagaw) for the IAAF