Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Osaka Bound

The Ethiopian Athletics Federation announced last Friday the Ethiopian squad of 32 athletes that will be travelling to Osaka, Japan to compete at the 11th World Championships in Athletics that is due to start in nine days. For the most part, it is a predictible list based on performance of the athletes so far.

However, I do have some questions that I will have to wait to get answers for:
1- Women 1500M: Why is Gelete Burka running in the already loaded 5000M when she can add to the medal count by running the 1500M in which she has done very well so far this year? Why is Mestawet Tadesse the only woman running the 1500M? Where is Meskerem Legesse? Did Mestawet or Meskerem meet the qualifying "A" standard that would have allowed Ethiopia to send more than one athlete in the 1500M? It appears to me that Gelete is getting a raw deal here by missing out in the 1500M.

2- Men's 5000M: Why is Kenenisa not doubling in the 5000M when he has run so many sizzling 3000M races in the last few weeks? This would have been his greatest chance to win a double gold. Perhaps, his experience from Mombasa has him focussed on beating Zeresenay Tadesse in the 10000M.

Incidentally, I am interested to know what the relationship between Kenenisa and Zeresenay is. I have watched many times over the 10000M at the 2004 Athens Olympics where Kenenisa was first and Zeresenay an unexpected third. After crossing the finish line, Kenenisa turned around and started to walk back looking for his team-mates Sileshi and Haile. About the same time Zeresenay crossed the finish line and appeared to approach Kenenisa wanting to shake hands or talk but Kenenisa simply walked past. I watched this many times over and it looks awkward. I wonder what the dynamics between the two of them is and if that contributed to what unfolded in Mombasa. It should make for another great 10000M race in Osaka.

3- Women's 10000M: Once again both Mestawet Tufa and Ahaza Kiros are on the list. Could there be a replay of the debacle in Mombasa? Also it remains to be seen how fit Tirunesh is.

4- Men's Marathon: Tesfaye Tola is back?? He won the Bronze Medal at the Sydney Olympics seven years ago. I was very impressed with him at the time (beautiful strides) but have not heard much of him recently. I like Gashaw Melese in this one since he did so well earlier this year at the Paris Marathon on a hot day (likely in Osaka). He won the Paris Marathon in 2006.

Overall, I think this is a great team. I hope the coaches learned their lesson from Mombasa and trained the athletes at a location that resembles Osaka's climate. Best wishes and I hope we will all watch and support as Ethiopia's best shine on a world stage.

Ethiopian squad for the 11th IAAF World Championships in Osaka 2007

MEN (16)
1500m: Derese Mekonnen, Mekonnen Gebremedhin
3000m SC: Roba Gari, Nahom Mesfin
5000m: Tariku Bekele, Abraham Cherkose, Bekana Daba, Sileshi Sihine
10,000m: Kenenisa Bekele, Sileshi Sihine, Gebregziabher Gebremariam, Tadesse Tola
Marathon: Gashaw Melese, Dejene Berhanu, Ambesse Tolosa, Gudissa Shentema, Tesfaye Tola

WOMEN (16)
1500m: Mestawet Tadesse
3000m SC: Netsanet Achamo, Mekdes Bekele, Zemzem Ahmed
5000m: Tirunesh Dibaba, Meseret Defar, Gelete Burka, Meselech Melkamu
10,000m: Tirunesh Dibaba, Mestawet Tufa, Ejegayehou Dibaba, Aheza Kiros
Marathon: Robe Guta, Askale Tafa, Dure Tune, Adanech Zekiros, Shetaye Gemechu


yekolotemari said...

800/1500/5k: Gelete Burika should have doubled in the 1500/5k. I feel she has an outside chance to medal in the 1500 but has a very good chance for a bronze in the 5K. The 1500 is a tough event when all the big guns are running and Gelete has not proved that she could top the likes of Maryam Jamal and the Russians. As for Meskerem, although she showed glimpses of brilliance when she was younger (debuted at 16), she never managed to win any major races. The Ethiopian federation should focus on the next crops of younger runners in the middle distances.

I would be curious what would happen if Defar decides to run the 1500.

10K: This will be a more open race. I feel, Tirunesh will win this event easily.

5k: This event is always unpredictable. I feel Seleshi has an excellent chance to win the gold.

10k: This won’t be a contest between Zeresenay and Kenenisa as everyone predicted. It will be between Kenenisa and Seleshi. Zeresenay is a great runner but I think he won’t be able to outkick neither Kenenisa nor Seleshi.

roocha said...

Yekolotemari- I think Gelete will do well to get fourth place in the 5000. I know she is a talented runner but she will be hard pressed to finish ahead of the other Ethiopians for a medal. My prediction (a bold one) is Meseret Defar Gold, Meselech Melkamu Silver, Tirunesh Dibaba Bronze. I think Gelete can only get a medal at the expense of Tirunesh. In the 1500M races Gelete ran this season, she won both leading from gun to tape, and there were stiff competitors in the race including the Russian World Champion. Gelete has a better chance for a medal in the 1500.

As for the men's 5000, Sileshi is only a reserve and may not even run the race. It is a tough race to call. Perhaps Craig Mottram will take the title as only Kenenisa seemed to be the only one to have his number this season. Maybe Abraham Cherkose will have a breakthrough.

In the 10000M, we should learn by now not to overlook Zeresenay. He did get the Bronze in Athens, and since then won couple of world titles including the World XC. He is a tough cookie and seems to be smart in training as was obvious from his performance in Mombasa. Having said that I can not imagine a scenario where Kenenisa loses back to back world titles, and both to Zeresenay. I think this is the reason Kenenisa is skipping out on the 5000.

One thing to keep in mind is the weather in Osaka. If the harh conditions materialize, the whole Ehiopian team could be doomed in a painful replay of Mombasa.

yekolotemari said...

Yea.. noticed Seleshi is a reserve in the 5k. Considering the conditions, may not be a bad idea. As far as the 10k though, I have to disagree with you. Zeresenay has excellent endurance but not speed. I still only see him only winning the bronze. My prediction is KB and Seleshi.

As far as the women 5k, I think Defar will take it considering Tiru had already run the 10k and may be tired. I think she will get the silver though. Melselech is good but she is not a winner. I see Gelete getting the bronze. She may even surprise Tiru and Meseret.

yekolotemari said...


What did I say?:)

roocha said...

yekolotemari- i gotta hand it to you on this one. I think Zeresenay committed suicide by pushing so hard from the gun... but it made the race one for the ages.