The 2013-2016 IAAF Strategic Plan has six Core Values: universality, leadership, unity, excellence, integrity and solidarity, and a Vision Statement: “To lead, govern and develop the sport of athletics in all its forms worldwide, uniting the Athletics Family in a spirit of excellence, integrity and solidarity.”
Former World junior 5000m champion Sule Utura was an easy winner of the women’s 5000m on the fourth day of the 40th Ethiopian Athletics Championships at the Addis Ababa stadium on Saturday (7).
A day earlier, Cherenet Makore and Bekashigne Aynalem were also convincing winners of the men’s and women’s 20km Race Walk on day three (6) on a day of field events and qualifiers.
Convincing Utura defends national title
Utura came into these championships with an impressive domestic record after winning two road and three Cross Country races in the last 15 months in addition to a seventh place finish at the African Championships 5000m. And she continued her impressive domestic form with a run-away victory on Saturday.
The early stages of the women’s 5000m were excruciatingly slow despite the rasping support from the crowd. Young runners Bekelech Daba, Etenesh Diro, and Goytatom Gebrselassie exchanged the lead at the front of the race with Utura electing to run just behind the front runners.
Utura decided that she had enough of following and moved to the front after eight laps. Her efforts saw a slow race pick up in the following laps and decisively succeeded in reducing the pack with only Daba and Gebrselassie able to live with her.
With two laps of the race left, the duo’s challenge to Utura’s crown ended as she opened up a sizable lead and continued to increase it before stopping the clock at 16:01.50. Gebrselassie edged out Daba in the fight for second.
"I prepared well for this championship and won it," Utura said. "But there were no strong contesters. The laps were too slow and I decided to go forward by myself after some laps. If you run with strong competitors, you can run a better time."
Her focus now turns to the task improving drastically on her 14:44.51 personal best at the distance.
Makore and Aynalem take Race Walks, Desta and Megso 400m crowns
Although it is not the country’s stronghold, Ethiopian Race Walkong is going through a bit of resurgence for the last three years. Four years ago, Bekashign Aynalem was an African junior champion in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and last year won silver at the African senior Championships in Nairobi, Kenya.
Her impressive form continued on Friday with a second national 20 Km title beating her archrival Asnakech Ararsa in the final kilometre to take victory in 1:47.03.
The men’s race saw a similar show of dominance with Makore easy taking victory in 1:32.50 with Mulugeta Tesfaye beating Mesebo Minamo for second place.
Ethiopia’s only finalists over the 400m at the African Championships, Bereket Desta (44.79) and Fantu Megso (52.53), were again impressive winners of the men’s and women’s 400m.
No surprises in qualifying for Sunday’s finals
In the best of the qualifying action, former Ethiopian World youth 2000m Steeplechase champion Legesse Lemisso was fastest in qualifying for the men’s 3000m Steeplechase with three-time national champion Roba Gari and All-African Games bronze medallist Nahom Mesfin also safely through.
Bertukan Feyissa, Genet Tibeso, and Ayantu Negusu looked to battle it for the women’s 1500m title on Sunday after winning their heats on Saturday. And the men’s 1500m has been pushed back due to fixture congestion and will now take place on Sunday as opposed to the originally-planned Saturday.
Elshadai Negash (with the assistance of Bizuayehu Wagaw) for the IAAF
Selected Results -
Day 3 (6) - Men 20 km Race Walk 1. Cherenet Makore (Defence) 1:32.49.50 2. Mulugeta Tesfaye (Defence) 1:33.24.56 3. Mesebo Minamo (Federal Prisons) 1:35.33.60
Women 20 km Race Walk 1. Bekashigne Aynalem (Defence) 1:47.02.64 2. Asnakech Ararsa (Federal Prisons) 1:50.22.35 3. Mulu Mengistu (Federal Prisons) 1:52.30.96