Don’t be fooled by the world U20 list. The Ethiopian duo of Girmawit Gebregziabher and Tsige Gebreselama are ranked outside the top 10 on the U20 list at this distance but it would be imprudent to take those times at face value.
They were the gold and silver medallists in the U20 race at the African Cross Country Championships in Chlef, Algeria in March although that order was reversed at the Ethiopian U20 Championships with Gebreselama clocking 9:28.38 to Gebregziabher’s 9:28.44.
Those times are bound to come down at sea level as was the case two years ago when Beyenu Degefa – who had one of the slowest entry times – slashed nearly one minute off her lifetime best to win the title in a championship record of 8:41.76.
Kenya last won this title in 2012 and they will be represented by Zenah Jemutai and Mercy Chepkorir. They were first and second at the Kenyan U20 Championships in 9:06.92 and 9:06.96 respectively. Neither of them have competed internationally yet.
Non-Africans have been competitive in this event in recent editions with Konstanze Klosterhalfen, Mary Cain and Emelia Gorecka all reaching the podium over the past six years. The only entrant to break nine minutes is 18-year-old Nozomi Tanaka, who won the Asian U20 title in Gifu by 10 seconds.
Also watch out for Switzerland’s Delia Sclabas, who won the 3000m title at the European U20 Championships last year. Only 17, Sclabas has been named on the Swiss team for the 1500m at the European Championships in Berlin this August.
Steven Mills for the IAAF