Sunday, July 13, 2008

Successful Juniors

The 12th IAAF World Junior Championships concluded today at BYDGOSZCZ, Poland (Can I buy a vowel please?!) and the Ethiopian Junior Team finished in what has to be considered a very successful fifth place. The team took home 2 Gold, 3 Silver, and 5 Bronze medals. What is even more impressive is that 10 of the 23 athletes who participated left decorated with a medal.

Highlights of the Ethiopian team success include taking both the men and women 5000M title, as well as winning medals in non-traditional events such as the 1500M and 3000M. Ethiopian athletes also participated in shorter races such as 400M and 800M gaining valuable experience for the future.

It is not a stretch to say that Ethiopia is well positioned to continue its dominance in the longer distance races in future championships, but also has good crop of athletes coming up through the ranks to successfuly compete at the shorter distances of 800M and 1500M. Well deserved kudos for the Ethiopian Athletic Federation for investing time and money to develop athletes for the shorter distance races.

Congratulations Team Ethiopia!!

Cherkos is Champ!

For the past two years (since running a 12:54 5000M as a 16 yr old), it has been clear that Abreham Cherkos has talent that would match any of Ethiopia's greatest distance runners but he has not been able to produce consistent results. At the Osaka World Championships last year, he finished a disappointing 8th, almost a minute off his personal best. One could only guess that his training method was not correct or consistent.

Last month in Berlin, Cherkos ran a 12:57 5000M showing his potential once again and indicating he might be on track to peak at the perfect time for the Beijing Olympics. Today, on the final day of the World Junior Championships, Cherkos (still a junior at 18!) took the 5000M title in a record-breaking fashion, and thus improving Ethiopia's hope for the Olympic 5000M title which otherwise has looked dim for sometime now. Below is the race summary from IAAF.

Abreham Cherkos of Ethiopia obliterated the 5000m Championship record and the USA enjoyed more relay joy as the curtain came down on the 12th IAAF World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland in front of more than 12,000 spectators in the Zawisza Stadium.

A heavy shower made life difficult for the competitors in the early part of the final session but the rain had abated by the time the 16 finalists set out on their 12-and-a-half-lap test in the men’s 5000m.

Cherkos makes it look easy
Ethiopia have generally had to play second fiddle to their arch distance running rivals for much of the championships but ended the final day on a high as Cherkos, the World junior leader, hacked almost 20 seconds from the Championship record to win gold in 13:08.58...more

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Meet Sule Utura

18-year-old Sule Utura joined the likes of Ayelech Worku, Meseret Defar and Meselech Melkamu as the fourth Ethiopian ever to win a World Junior gold medal in the women’s 5000m tonight in Bydgoszcz.

The event has only been contested for women since 1996 and only three times has the gold medal gone outside Ethiopia.

For Utura, it was the first international title after her 3000m World youth bronze in Ostrava last year and a fourth place finish at the 2007 World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa.

In second, World Cross Country junior champion Genzebe Dibaba made it a one-two double ...more
Utura brilliance
Ethiopia’s Sule Utura confirmed her potential as one of the most exciting young distance talents in the world when winning the first track title of these championships.

Even coming from a country that is a conveyor belt of running phenomenon, the 18-year-old was beginning to stand out when she finished fourth in the junior race at last year’s IAAF World Cross Country Championships.

Here, she used a last kilometre of 2:48 to beat the youngest of the three running Dibaba sisters, Genzebe, into second place.

Utura’s winning time of 16:15.59 was more than a minute outside her PB set in Oslo earlier this year, but with finishing speed like hers, she could afford to take it easy over the first three and a half kilometres.

She, Dibaba and Kenya’s Nelly Chebet and Lucia Kamene Muangi were to the fore for much of the opening very slow seven laps. The kilometres were passed in 3:28.46, 6:58.25 and 10:19.65 before Chebet injected a dramatic burst with just less than four laps to go. It left the non-Africans in the race chasing as the two Kenyans and two Ethiopians went away.

Ethiopia held the edge over their neighbours in this four-way battle, but Chebet and Muangi were still within striking distance at the bell.

However, it was Utura who added gold to the bronze she won in the 3000m at last year’s World Youth Championships.

She said: “I was happy with the slow pace early in the race. I had confidence in my finishing speed. I knew one of us – me or Genzebe – would win. It did not matter which of us finished first. This is the biggest success of my career.”

The name Dibaba once again appears on a championship medal, but this time it will not belong to Tirunesh, the world 5000m record-holder, or Ejegayehu. Genzebe, who won the world junior cross-country title in March, was less than a second adrift with 16:16.75, with Chebet third in 16:17.96.

The silver medallist explained she had benefited from some considerable advice. “I live with my sisters Tirunesh and Ejegayehu and they help me a lot with their advice," she said.