Sunday, August 16, 2009

Team Ethiopia in Berlin- Day 1

The one bit of downside to having a dynasty is that the ending is always painful. End of a dynasty pretty much describes fate of Team Ethiopia on Day 1 in Berlin, and perhaps the entire meet. Please forgive my grumpy attitude but Roocha has always questioned the viability of an entire national athletic program resting on a shoulder of superstars you can count on half of one hand, especially when a large talent pool is available to develop.

Starting from the 1999 World Championships in Seville, Spain, Ethiopia has won ALL the gold medals in the Women’s 10000M race… until yesterday. The house built by the likes of Derartu Tulu, Gete Wami, Berhane Adere, and Tirunesh Dibaba had no keeper in Berlin and it was ransacked! Now the winner, Kenya’s Linet Masai, is deserving of the victory and currently is one of my favorite Kenyan runners. She strides beautifully and came very close to winning the World Cross-Country Champs back in March. But still, having watched yesterday’s race twice, I still can not figure out what happened to our Ethiopian ladies. The pace was slow enough that Meseret Defar should not have ran out of gas in the last 30 meters, but she clearly did by her own admission. Meselech Melkamu was so focused on beating Meseret that she was caught thinking victory over Meseret to be equivalent to victory over all. Meselech claims in the post-race press conference that she is personally pleased with her result but it is a bit hard to believe.
I am very, very disappointed. For myself personally, I am pleased because this is my first time running this event at the world championships, so I'm happy I got a medal. But I would have been happy if Meseret (Defar) had got the gold. I was expecting her to win. I never saw the Kenyan."
Wude Ayalew is the only runner in my opinion that achieved her full potential. She was happy to carry the flag in celebration while the others looked very hesitant.

In other events of the day, two of the three entrants in women’s 3000M Steeplechase have advanced to the next round. Sofia Assefa finished third in heat 1 while Zemzem Ahmed won heat 3. Zemzem’s heat was much slower than Sofia’s so she should have plenty energy in the final on Monday.

In men’s 1500M, Deresse Mekonnen posted the fastest qualifying time of all the heats advancing to the second round. Henok Legesse has also made it to the next round while Mekonnen Gebremedhin failed to advance. Deresse worked a bit hard for a first round race but I hope he has enough to continue on. A gold medal from him will go a long way to ease the pain of the loss in the women’s 10000M.
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