Sunday, September 09, 2007

Osaka Recap: What We Got Wrong

The disappointing Men’s 5000M performance was a sour finale to Osaka. One week later I am still a bit sour. That said, let’s get this wrap up done.

First off was this World Championship a Success? The chart below should answer that question.

Clearly, Osaka was a big step back, the worst result since 1997. The Ethiopian Athletics Federation needs to take note. The medal count is unimpressive. Even less impressive is how these medals were won, brute force.

So what did we get wrong?

Poor Preparation
It has been obvious for a while that the hot weather preparation Ethiopian athletes have been doing is not working. In 2004, the touted Athens Olympics Marathon preparation was a farce when only two of the men managed to finish. The guys finished in 15th and 46th place. That was on the heal of the 1st and 3rd place finishes just four years earlier at Sydney. Earlier this year, before Mombasa the Federation confidently boasted about hot weather preparations. Mombasa was a total disaster. Obviously the preparation is not working. What did the team do different for Osaka? Nothing. Same old preparation same old result in the Marathon. I feel like yelling: what ever you do please do not use the same hot weather preparation before Beijing. It won’t work!

Team Selection
Tactical running has become a lost art among Ethiopian runners. It seems like in the Haile Marathon era, tactical marathon running is not appreciated much. Gezahenge Abera was not a fastest runner but he sure knew how to run tactical races and win. Runners that do well in hot weather generally are going to have slower times than those that do well on fast courses. The present selection process favors fast runners. Why select a cold weather speedster when you know the marathon in Beijing is going to be a hot weather tactical race? Coaches should look at selecting runners that are tactical runners.

Old Superstars Opted Out
Gete, Berehane and Haile opted out of the World Championships. All thee are former tack runners that are speedster marathoners. I am pretty sure they would have taken a good licking had they ran Marathons. However, if they have plans to be part of the Beijing squad they should have taken their lessons in Osaka rather than show up unprepared for the Olympics. The conditions are going to be similar.

Slow Races
Enough said on this topic.

Slow Middle Distance Development
The Ethiopian Athletics Federation is not moving into the 1500M and 800M races aggressively.

At the 1999 World Championships Kutre Dulecha won a bronze medal in the Women’s 1500M. At the 2000 Olympics Kutre finished 4th in the 1500M, while Wendimu Mulugeta was a finalist in the Men's 1500M and Alemu Berhanu was a semi-finalist in the Men's 800M. For a while it looks like things were going to blossom.

Sadly, the Ethiopian Athletics Federation has not built on these successes. Ethiopia is loaded with 1500M talent that needs to be harvested. Former Ethiopian and 1500M World Champion Maryam Yusuf Jamal has shown that.

Only two men and one woman were entered in the 1500M. The 800M has been totally abandoned.

What are your thoughts?


yekolotemari said...

The perfect team tactic. Mohammed Kedir should be remembered. He worked hard for Mirut's victory especially in the 10k.

welemta said...

This was a great race. The amazing thing is that Mohamed Kedir was the one that looked spent at the end. That is what a true team player is. It's now become a lost art.

Anonymous said...

Also,... Tariku and Abraham need to mature sometime this century.
I am the type of progress Meseret showed in her development.

It's hard to have consistency out of these two it seems, especially Tariku. I can't wait till he becomes a force to be reckoned with.


yekolotemari said...

Tariku won't be a superstar, in my opinion. Those who became indomitable all matured early (with the exception of Berhane Adere). If they do not dominate while young, they usually will not become dominant. Tariku and Abraham will be solid runners but I do nto think that they will be a super star. We really need new youngesters to come up...