Thursday, August 14, 2008

Beijing T&F - Day 1 Preview

As far as Ethiopia is concerned, the medal total at the Athens Olympics four years ago was not up to par. Most of it had to do with the fact that Ethiopia participates a small number of events. To have a good Olympic, the Ethiopian team needs multiple medals per event. To some extent that is still true. But Ethiopia is gradually establishing itself in the 1,500 M and the 3,000 M. In Beijing we will see have an opportunity to gauge the strength of the new programs. In addition, Beijing will be the first time that the new generation of athletes Kenenisa, Seleshi, Tirunesh, Ejigaehu and Meseret come to the Olympics as medalist. Day one of track and field is a display of both the new and the old.


Mens 1,500 M Heats - Just Advance
In Athens, a then promising and impressive Mulugeta Wondimu made it all the way to the finals and finished 10th in the finals. At the 2005 World Championships Mulugeta finished 12th in the first round and did not advance. While Mulugeta Wondimu has somewhat stagnated since 2004,
in 2004 he left a mark against which he and his teammates will be measured against.

This time around two young runners Deresse Mekonnen and Demma Daba along with Mulugeta Wendimu will represent Ethiopia. The problem is that this young group of runners is still developing. Last year, Kenenisa Bekele ran a 1,500 M and this is how Kenenisa's time compares against the personal best of the three 1,500 M runners.

Mulugeta Wendimu 03:31.1
Kenenisa Bekele 3:32.35
Deresse Mekonnen 03:33.7
Demma Daba 03:35.3

The bottom line is that Kenenisa is as good at the 1,500 M Ethiopian runners and he is a 10, 000 M runner. We should not get our hopes up, at least not yet.

In 2007, none of the Ethiopian runners advanced to the finals. Deresse Mekonnen finished 11th in his heat but nearly qualified for the next round based on his time. Of the three Deresse Mekonnen has the best time this year, a slow but impressive win in Oslo where his beat some of the top athletes at the event. Demma is a solid young runner that is on the bubble and can advance with a solid run.

Expect two of the three to advance to the next round.



Women’s 3,000 M Steeplechase Simi-Final - First Ever
This is the first time the Women’s 3,000 Steeplechase is part of the Olympic program and we are in it. Ethiopia will be represented by Mekdes Bekele, Sofia Assefa and Zemzem Ahmed. Of the three, Mekdes Bekele is the most likely to advance. At the 2007 World Championship no Ethiopian woman made it to the final. Mekdses Bekele was close, finishing 6th in her heat (top 4 automatically qualify) and Zemzem finished 12th.

Look for Mekdes to make it to the finals. Anything else is a bonus.



Women’s 10,000 M Final – To Sweep or Not to Sweep?

The 2007 World Championship Women's 10,000M almost ended in disaster, when Tirunesh Dibaba tripped and fell. She managed to get back in the race and win. I would venture to say that Tirunesh Dibaba is a sure gold medal, more so that Kenenisa. After setting the 5,000 WR she comes in top shape.

After being involved in a fall Mestawet Tufa did not finish in Osaka last year. However, Mestawet has had a solid year which included beating Lornah Kiplagat by 25 seconds in Nijmegn. Kiplagat has the fastest time in the field. Mestawet is hungry so look for Mestawet to push Tirunesh.

The key to a sweep is how 2004 silver medalist Ejegayehu Dibaba performs. In hot and humid Osaka she faded to 7th place last year.

Let's identify threats to the sweep using the Personal Best and the Season Best of the top ten runners in the 10,000 M.




The threats to the sweep
  • Naving finished 2nd in Osaka, former Ethiopian Elvan Abeylegesse of Turkey is a threat. She however is inconsistent and has been known to choke.
  • Lornah Kiplagat has the best time in the field but was soundly defeated by Mestawet earlier this year. Even though her best years may be behind here, 34 year old Lornah Kiplagat is still a dangerous runner.
  • The dark horse is Inga Abitova of Russia has run in a lot of 10,000M races this season and has quietly had a very good season. I won’t be surprised if I see her on the podium.
  • In May at Palo Altho, Shalane Flanagan (USA) and Kimberley Smith (NZL) recorded to top two times of the year, both set personal bests. With the impressive times there is a buzz around these two runner but they are a long shot.

Look for two medals. One is solid gold.

11 comments:

roocha said...

Watch out for the Kenyan-turned-Dutch Lornah Kiplagat! She is extremely dangerous and may try to run away early in the race. She was successful with this strategy at the Mombassa Cross Country Championship (warm weather) last year where she beat all the Ethiopians including Tirunesh Dibaba, Gelete Burka, and Meselech Melkamu. She has also employed the same strategy winning the World's Best 10K in Puerto Rico (warm weather) where she has beaten Mestawot Tufa, Meseret Defar, Berhane Adere, etc. If the conditions are warm and humid in Beijing, Kiplagat has to be watched closely because she can steal the race.

66 min till race time...

http://blog.yekolo.com said...

Good job Zemzem. She had to do a personal best to go through to the finals in 3k SC.

I expected Derese to make it in the 1500 and he did. I think he is tactically a smart runner and may surprise.

Can't wait for the 10k. I honestly expect a sweep. If Ejigayehu and Mestawot hang around the leaders in the final 2 laps, i think we can sweep.

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