Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Women's 1,500 M Heats Preview


Unlike the men, two qualification heats (heats and semi-finals), the women have to pass though just one qualification heat. Ethiopia had entered four runners (three runners and an alternate) but just two will be running in the heats.Gelete Burka and Meskerem Assefa. The other two entries were steeplechase runners, Mekdes Bekele and Zemzem Ahmed. These two had never ran the 1,500 internationally. It's hard to understand why the were entered in the first place.

I find it astounding that Ethiopia is unable to field three runners in this event. When it comes to the 1,500 M the Federation seems completely lost. It always confuses it with other races. This is not the 5, 000 and this is not the Steeplechase! This is the 1,500 M!

Ethiopia has an abundance of talent at this distance. Case and point, Maryam Yusuf Jamal who now runs for Bahrain. Maryam Yusuf Jamal who claims to have been mismanaged while running for Ethiopia is the prohibitive favorite in this race. Talented Gelete Burka has also been mismanaged by being entered in one too many 5,000 M races and a slew of cross-country races. While one can never question Meseret Defar’s results in the 5,000 M, my suspicion is that she probably would have been as good or better at the 1,500 M. Others include Kutre Dulecha (Bronze in 1999 World Championships and now a marathon runner) and Mestawot Tadesse who has disappeared. And finally, who can forget the immortal Alem Techale, 2003 World Junior champion. She would have be 21 and in her prime. The country is loaded with talent. The Federation needs to learn how to harness the abundant talent. The 1,500 M must be taken seriously. In addition an 800 M program goes hand in hand with a 1,500 M and should be part of any 1,500 M program development. Ethiopia needs to stop trying to sweep races and instead it should expand event participation.

The women have a trail that that can follow. It was blazed by Kutre Dulecha who was a silver medalist in the 1999 World Championships. She went on to finish 4th in Sydney in 2000. Unlike Gelete, Kurte was never entered into 5000M events. Gelete is one of the finest athletes in the 1,500 and she should easily qualify. Gelete is considered a medal contender. Meskerem Assefa was 12th in her heat in Athens four years ago. Her times are not great. She will find it will be hard for her to advance, but she can always surprise us.

Look for Gelete in the finals.

10 comments:

roocha said...

Well, both Gelete and Meskerem fail to advance. I don't know what happened to Gelete. I watched her run the Paris Golden League meet about a month ago and she did not look good. I was nervous for her since then. She had the year's fastest time going in to today's race but finihes in 6th place finishing some 16 seconds slower that what she ran earlier in the year. Even Meskerem ran 10 sec faster than Gelete today. Watching the race, Gelete looked OK till the bell lap where she reacted too strongly to people passing her by starting her kick too early. She faded badly in the last 150M and her Olympics over as soon as it started. Sweeping the 5000M and marathon notwithstanding, it looks the team will finish Beijing far behind their goal of winning 10 medals.

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