Thursday, August 20, 2009

Team Ethiopia in Berlin- Day 2-3-4…

I hope the 2013 World Champs will be hosted in the Americas (2011 already given to Daegu, South Korea, so too late for that). Besides may be getting a chance to watch the action in person, the TV schedule will be much easier to deal with. The past few days have been challenging to watch the events on tape delay at night, while staying away from hearing the results during the day. Of course, as it has been obvious here, that left no time for writing blog updates…

Anyway, luckily or unluckily, there was not overwhelming amount of action from Team Ethiopia to write home about.

Men’s 3000M Steeplechase
On day 2 (Sunday), the men’s 3000M Steeplechase qualifying round saw Yacob Jarso and Roba Gary advance to the final which was run on Day 4 (Tuesday). In the finals, status quo was kept with Kenya taking the title and three of the top four places, with Yacob and Roba in 5th and 6th place, respectively. Yacob posted a personal best (by small margin), and Roba also came close to his PB indicating both performed close to their top form. What is notable is the Kenyan winner finished 12 seconds ahead of the Ethiopians- a good 75-80 meter margin. Both Yacob and Roba said they had sufficient endurance to stay with the winner all the way but lacked the hurdling techniques. Yacob went even further to say that he is “now thinking of switching events if the coaches do not help us with [jumping] technique."

Women’s 3000M Steeplechase
On day 3 (Monday), it was the women’s turn for the 3000M Steeplechase. Both Sofia Assefa and Zemzem Ahmed had qualified comfortably from the heats on day 1. Since the 3000M SC is still a relatively young event, there was hope for a good showing for both ladies who had posted good times this season. However, the final in Berlin failed far below expectation as the Ethiopians finished in 10th and 13th place, both more than 10 seconds off their season best time. Unlike the men, lack of technique can not be the culprit for the poor performance. This was one event where Ethiopian Athletics had an opportunity to show progress into a new territory but it simply did not happen.

Men’s 10000M
With the exception of Edmonton in 2001, Ethiopia (well, Haile and Kenenisa) have owned this event since 1993. There was not much doubt that Kenenisa would get his 4th world title to match Haile from the 1990’s. The only question was in what fashion and who would claim the bottom two spots on the podium.

Sure enough Kenenisa won but I was impressed by how Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese pushed the pace all the way to the last lap when Kenenisa simply sprinted by. With Sileshi Sihine out with injury, Kenenisa had to run alone as Abebe Dinkesa dropped out of the race and the World Cross Country Champion Gebre Gebremariam could only finish 10th. Similar to Wude Ayalew in the women’s 10000M, the bright spot for Ethiopia was 20 year old Imane Merga who finished in fourth place. He ran a personal best to go along with the 3000M and 5000M personal best he set earlier this year. But at this time, there is no heir-apparent to Kenenisa, who took over from Haile in 2003.

One final item to note: Kenenisa won the 10000M in a convincing fashion while setting a world championship record. His dominance in the 10000M is no less than Usain Bolt’s in the 100M. This was my own initial observation (on Twitter) after watching the race on Tuesday. I was pleased to read today a piece in the New York Times expressing the same sentiment, and in a much more articulate fashion. Read the article here.

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1 comment:

yekolotemari said...

I pretty much agree with your assessment of the events so far. I thought the men 3000 sc runners did well. It will take a while before we start competing with the Kenyans.

As for the 10k, Imane did pleasantly surprise me. I did not expect much from G. Gebremariam. Ditto from A. Dinkessa. For the past few years, the 10k has been about Seleshi and Kenenisa. Kudos to Zeresenay Tadesse, however. Amazing running. He attempted the only possible option and he was rewarded with a silver for his effort.

Deresse Mekonnen's tactical awareness and gutsy running had to be the brightest point for the Ethiopian team. This kid is amazing. He knows how to maximize his ability. He is no fluke! I want to see him try the 5k in a major championship.

The race I am looking forward to is the women's 1500. Gelete has the tendency to tire after consecutive races. She is also notoriously inconsistent. I am hoping that she finally achieves what her talent deserves.