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.