Saturday, August 25, 2007

Osaka: Day One - Tirunesh Saves the Day

The first day of the World Championships started with a poor performance by the men in the Marathon. By evening the day had almost turned into a disaster when Tirunehs Dibaba and Mestawet Tufa tripped up during the women’s 10,000 meters final. A stunning performance by Tirunesh Dibaba saved the day and earned the lone medal of the day. Here is a summary of what happened today.

Marathon (Men): Embarrassing!
The Ethiopian men continue their streak of embarrassing performance in hot weather events. Memorys of Mombassa are still fresh.In the Mens marathon the top performance was turned in by 14th place finisher Gashaw Asfaw, while Dejene Birhanu came in 31 and Ambesse Tolosa 38. Tesfaye Tola and Gudisa Shentema did not finish. It was a hot and humid day and that will be excuse once again. Incidentally Yared Asmerom of Eritira finished 4th which shows that any effects of weather can be overcome.

3000 Meters Steeplechase Heats (Women): Baby Steps
None of the three women advanced to the semifinals. The top Ethiopian was Mekdes Bekele who was 6th in her heat with a time of 9:50.12. The slowest qualifier ran 9:44.01. Mekdes was off the qulifying mark by a little over 6 seccond. Zemzem Ahmed ran 10:07.77 and Netsanet Achamo ran 10:12.59. The women were not outclassed and Mekdes Bekele’s performance is encouraging. It takes baby steps like this to be competitive down the line. Look for results in 2012 or 2016.

1500 Meters Heaths (Men): Encoraging Signs
Mekonnen Gebremehdin finished second in his heat beating the speedy Algerian, Tarek Boukensa. Deresse Mekonnen failed to qualify for the next round. The slowest qualifying time was 3:41.96 while Deresse Mekonnen finished in 3:43.15. All in all it was not a bad performance. The 1500 Meters semi-finals are on Monday and if Mekonnen Gebremehdin makes it to the finals that should be considered a good achievement. It’s unrealistic to expect much more at this stage.

10,000 Metres (Women): One of the Ages!
What makes a true champion is the capacity to overcome adversity. Despite pre-race doubts about her overall fitness, a stomach cramp on race day and being accidentally tripped during the race Tirunhes Dibaba showed us what she is made of by fighting back to win the title. This will be a performance that will be remembers for years. Unfortunately Mestawet Tufa’s hard luck continues as she was unable to finish. Ejegayehu Dibaba finished 7th and Aheza Kiros finished 17th out of 18 finishers.

Dibaba wins world title in miracle fightback
By Alastair Himmer

OSAKA, Japan (Reuters) - Ethiopia's Tirunesh Dibaba made an astonishing recovery to become the first woman to defend her world championship 10,000 meters title on Saturday.

Dibaba had contemplated pulling out of the race after complaining of crippling stomach pains before taking her place on the starting line.

She was then left languishing at the back of the field after being accidentally tripped on lap 13 but stormed back in draining humidity to win in a time of 31 minutes 55.41 seconds. more...