Sunday, September 04, 2011
Kenyans ran a clinic finishing 1-2-5. As usual Ethiopia put together a very underwhelming performance. At the 25K point only Feyisa Lilesa was in contention. Feyisa Lilesa tried to keep up with the eventual winner Vincent Kipruto but found himself alone flanked by Kenyans. Give credit to Feyisa Lilesa who battled it out for 3rd. The second place Ethiopian finisher was in 13th place and the 3rd Ethiopian finisher was in 28th. This race clearly was a huge disaster for Ethiopia.
Men's 5000 M
I just don't get it. Did the Ethiopian coaches think they can out-kick Mo Farah twice? And did they think they were going to outkick Legat? Dejen Gebremeskel who challenged Mo Farah was in the middle of the pack at the bell. He was not in good position and had to run mostly on the outside. But Dejen Gebremeskel gave it a go and you have to respect him for going all out for gold. With 200M to go Imane Merga, just like the 10,000M was not going all out for gold. He picked off Dejen Gebremeskel at the finish third with the energy he had saved. The good news was that Imane Merga was disqualified and Dejen Gebremeskel has the bronze.
Daegu was a disaster for Ethiopia. The results were caused by of years of neglect and incompetence. Ethiopian athletics clearly is not keeping up. I suspect the slide will continue for years to come.
Saturday, September 03, 2011
With the exception of Gebregziabher Gebremariam's win in New York none of the Ethiopian runners have won a major marathon. The Kenyans lineup included defending champion Abel Kirui, Benjamin Kolum Kiptoo (Paris winner) David Barmasai Tumo (Duabi winner), Vincent Kipruto (2009 Paris winner), (2010 Prague winner). In other words the Kenyans have beaten the Ethiopian guys before in ideal conditions. The Kenyans are experienced.
The Kenyan team could have been even stronger. Missing is Emmanuel Kipchirchir Mutai (London winner). Ethiopia is missing consistent performer Tsegay Kebede.
Gebregziabher Gebremariam has an incentive to perform. In the World Marathon Majors series he currently has 35 points and is 4th place Winning the World Championship can propel him into the series lead which can mean serious money.
If you see Ethiopians up front early don't get too excited. Chances are they will fade. There is always a chance someone like Ibrahim Jeilan can come through. However, Ibrahim's training was different - he trained in Japan. I am not sure that is the case with any of the marathon runners.
Kenya took gold and silver. Ethiopia's only finalist Mekonnen Gebremedhin finished 7th. The 7th place finish was not reflective of the race he ran. Mekonnen could have probably won a bronze but he went for gold and it did not work out. It's good that he showed assertiveness and confidence.
The fist two laps were very slow. The final lap was a scorcher. They covered the final 300M in 38 seconds. Mekonnen was in good position and was able to keep with the surge the two Kenyans put on and sometimes lead but he could not hold on after the last bend.
We have consistently witnessed Ethiopians being out kick in the final stretch. Out kicking others on the final stretch used to be the strength on Ethiopian runners. The preparation of the runners has to be questioned. Are Ethiopian athletes not fit for their tactics? The only Ethiopian runner that out kicked another runner (Ibrahim Jeilan) trains in Japan. Is that a coincidence?
We are at day 8 and going into the last day Ethiopia has just one gold and two bronze medals.
Friday, September 02, 2011
The Ethiopian plan was to again try something that did not work for them in the 10,000M. The Kenyan plan was to again try something that worked for them in the 10,000M. Guess which plan worked? In a slow race and the Ethiopians again seemed content to wait and out kick the Kenyans. It was no secret that the Kenyan women and Vivian Cheruiyot in particular can out kick the Ethiopian women so why the Ethiopian team did not come up with a anther plan is beyond me. It's better to try something new and fail rather than fail doing things you know have a high probability of failure. Who is going to be held accountable for this mess? I suspect no one.
Going into London, the Ethiopian women's team does not look good. The Kenayan women's team is better trained and better coached. There is no guarantee that Tirunesh Dibaba will return to her former form. Even if she does there is no guarantee that she can beat Vivian Cheruiyot.
The Ethiopian Women leave Daegue with just one bronze. The worst finish since 1997.
Women's 800M Semifinals
Fantu Magiso did not make it to the finals but she should be proud of her performance. Fantu set a national record in her heat. She looked very fluid and was with the leaders into the final stretch. It is very difficult to make the finals of the 800M but Fantu has the talent to do that. She was a finalist in the 400M. One does not make it to the finals 400 by luck. Fantu belongs among the world class runners. She is a strong runner that is still raw. She needs to be consistent with her technique. All the runners are consistent. She needs to spend time in the weight room. She also needs to gain more experience.
Of all the Ethiopian Women Fantu is the only one that met or exceeded expectations.
Thursday, September 01, 2011
Women’s 1500 M Final
With about 150 meters to go Kalkidan Gezahegne was where she needed to be, sitting right on the sholder of the leader Natalia Rodríguez and looked ready to explode with a sprint. The sprint never materialized. She finished a disappoinging 5th. What makes it more disappointing is that Maryam Yusuf Jamal faded with about 250 meters to go. Kalkidan Gezahegne had a very sluggish start and was at the back of the pack for the first 800 meters. She looked a bit out of it at times. When the pace picked up she made a fast move to the front. I wonder if that sudden surge took something out of her.
Men’s 3000M Steeplechase Final
The two Ethiopians started slow and made no attempt to stay with the leaders. They kind of ran their own race. During the last lap Roba Gary surged and there were moments when it looked like he was about to join the lead pack but that never happened. Roba kept passing runners who were dropping off the lead pack including Kenyan Richard Mateelong. He finished 5th. Things could have been different had he stayed closer to the leaders entering the last lap. I don’t think anyone could have beat Ezekiel Kemboi but the silver and bronze were avalible.
Men’s 1500 M Semifinals
The only Ethiopian finalist will be Mekonnen Gebremedhin. Deresse Mekonnen, the silvermedalist in 2009 won’t be in the finals. Deresse Mekonnen looked good most of the race and went into the lead on the last lap but he started a fast fade with 120 meters to go. A runner of his caliber does not fade suddenly unless he was experiencing some problem.
In the same heat as Deresse Kenyan Daniel Kipchirchir Komen the fastest runner in that heat who did most of the pace setting did not advance. In the other heat Yusuf Saad Kamel of Bahrain, the defending champion failed to advance. The 1500M is a cruel race. You have to admire Hicham El Guerrouj and Noureddine Morceli who won this race consistenly.
Men’s 5000M Heats
All three Ethiopians qualified easily. This should be a very interesting and unpredictable final. Bernard Lagat and Galen Rupp of the US looked good. Mo Farah looks fresh the Ethiopians and Kenyans didn’t sweat it so this makes for a great final. On an interesting note, Craig Mottram of Australia who once beat Haile Gebreselassie did not advance.
Women’s 800 M Heats
Fantu Magiso advanced to the semifinals. She was among the leaders going into the finals stretch but was outkicked. She fell out of the automatic qualifiers but advanced on time. Fantu looks like a strong runner but she has a lot of work to do. Her final sprint was not fluid. Her upper body moved a lot and she was not at all relaxed. Again if he gets good coaching and worked on her technique she can be good at this distance. Her goal right now is to make it to the finals.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Although listed, Kenenisa Bekele will not defend his title. That Tariku is not entered is a surprise. Tariku’s time this year is better than Abera Kuma and he has more connections to the federation than the relative new comer Abera . Tariku is a good runner but is not a big threat to medal. Giving an opportunity to a younger guy like Abera is not a bad idea.
This group has some characters.
Imane Merga runs very aggressively. He is known to use his elbows when boxed in and is also accused of causing runners to crash. Abera Kuma on the other hand got some fame when he had his leg grabbed and a punch thrown at him by an Eritrean runner. The Eritrean claims that Abera cause both of them to crash by using his elbow.
The One Shoe Man
The third runner Dejen Gebremeskel also got some fame when he lost one shoe 50 meters into the race and won the indoor 3000M race beating Mo Farah with just one shoe on.
This is what Mo Farah had to say about the one shoe man.
“I was trying to hold off and he tried to come inside around the bend, and then he just came right past me, had a different gear,” “He was running with one shoe, so fair credit to him. "Sounds familiar?
And Dejen Gebremeskel said…
“My foot was burning. After the race, it had blisters”
Sabrina Yohannes did a nice interview with Dejen Gebremeskel
This was not the first time he had ran barefoot:
“I’ve never trained barefoot, only with shoes. Tennis shoes, sneakers, regular shoes of some sort. I ran one competition barefoot. It was on the Addis Ababa track, a 5000 or 10,000, I don’t remember which, it was all the same to me then. It was maybe about five years ago. It was the regional competition at the Ethiopian championships.”
“It was my first time running on a proper track, and we were told we could only run on it with spikes. There were many of us in the same situation. So we ran barefoot.”
That’s really sad what Ethiopian runners have to go through to make it.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Mohamed Amin finished last in a race that had a fast finish. He was out of position to respond when the big boys took off. He did show some flashes in the semifinals when he stormed from way back to win his heat. With experience and good coaching he can turn into a good runner.
Women's 3000 Steeplechase Final
Sofia Assefa fell on the first hurdle and yet finished 6th which indicates that she had a good shot at a medal. The problem with clearing hurdles is not limited to Sofia. Birtukan Adamu stumbled during the qualifying round.
Yuliya Zaripova of Russia ran a clinic. She ran from the front end to end dictating the race outcome.
Women's 1500M Semifinals
Gelete Burka failed to qualify. She started fading on the last lap and faded badly with 200M left. With about 150 meters left she stepped off the track. Time is passing her by and it's sad to see someone as talented as Gelete keep failing at major events.
Kalkidan looked good in her heat. Anytime Maryam Yusuf Jamal injected speed Kalkidan made sure to respond to maintain her lead over Maryam Yusuf Jamal.
Women's 5000M Heats
I thought Meseret looked much more comfortable at this distance than the 10,000. She ran from the front when she needed to and had the look of a confident runner. Sentayehu Ejigu looked a bit tentative but made it through.
There is something about Genzebe Dibaba. Big races don’t intimidate her. She looks like she has been running all her life. Maybe she has. There was a scary moment during the last lap when it looked like she was boxed in but she found her way out and sprinted to win her heat. Her sprint was very fluid. I should not put too much stock into qualifying round performances but she seems like she has the intangibles that a star has. The Kenyan women were at it again with team work and communication. It seems like we are seeing less and less communication among Ethiopian runners during the race.
Men's 1500M Heats
The two experienced runners Mekonnen Gebremedhin and especially Deresse Mekonnen ran from the front and avoided being tangled. While I thought Mekonnen Gebremedhin looked more fluid but liked how Deresse Mekonnen controlled his race. On the other hand Zebene Alemayehu did not impress and did not advance.
This should be a great final. I think Ethiopia have a couple of legitimate medal contenders in this race. The 1,500M is a very tactical race and very difficult to predict.
Men's 3000 Steeplechase Heats
Both runners played follow the leader to advance to the final. Nahom Mesfin did just enough. Roba Gari on the other hand ran with more confidence and focus. Brimin Kipruto looked a bit surprised when he could not close the gap on Roba at the end. Roba and Mesfin have in the past looked good in heats but were a notch below the top leaders in the finals. Will that pattern repeat?
Monday, August 29, 2011
Kalkidan Gezahegne a medal contender did not advance from the first heat. It's a disaster. Kalkidan did most of he leading in her race. But the race she lead was the slowest heat. If she goes through the trouble of leading why not lead a fast race? In addition, this was the first heat where one does not know how fast they should run to qualify so it is even more important that to lead a fast if you can run a fast pace. 11 of 12 runners in the fastest heat (heat 3) advanced. Obviously she had her tactics wrong. This is similar to what happened to Gelete Burka in Beijing 2008. The coaches should have prepared runners for this situation.
We now only have Gelete Burka and she does not look like the runner she was two years ago. She has always has had problems at big events. In Beijing she was one of the favorites but did not qualify from her heat. In Berlin 2009 she was shoved and fell during the final lap. She was fading when she was shoved. This time she is not considered medal favorite so with less pressure she may produce better results. That is just hope. First she needs to qualify for the finals and qualifying has been a problem.
Women's 400 M
During the introduction announcement of the 400 M runners Fantu Magiso did some hot dogging - pointing to herself - yeah I am the famos Fantu ya'all heard about. She should have conserved her energy as she finished last in her heat. She was out classed. Her body looks like it has never seen a weight room. There is a lot of work to be done there.
Did you think all that chest thumping by Ibrabim Jeilan at the finish line was a bit too much? It went on and on and on and on. Miruts never did anything like that. Haile never did anything like that. Derartu never did anything like that. All of these were classy runners. Ibrahim Jeilan is a fine runner but he does not want to motivate other runner.
Now this is class...
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Kenenisa should have never started this race. He dropped out at about the 5,000M.
The Kenyans were a non-factor in this race mostly because Zersenay Tadese kept the pace honest. A lot of respect to Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea who always runs an honest race. I always wonder what his results would be if he had a good supporting cast.
Ibrahim Jeilan emergence as well as Imani Merga 3rd place finish coupled with the poor showing by Kenenisa Bekele and Seleshi Sihine will transform the Ethiopian London field. Kenenisa Bekele and Seleshi Sihine had been fixtures at this event. It's most likely that one of them will not be at the 2012 Olympics as there is no room on the roster.
Will Kenenisa Bekele be back? Can Ibrahim Jeilan beat a fit Kenenisa Bekele?
Saturday, August 27, 2011
We had suspected that Ethiopian Athletics is in decline. But 1-2-3-4 for Kenya? The truth is that Ethiopia has not been developing talent on the track for a while. 5,000 and 10,000 doubles medals by Tirunesh and Kenenisa had obscured the problem. With Tirunesh out the lack of talent was painfully clear.
Long gone were the days of Gete Wami, Derartu Tulu, Berhane Adere, Workinesh Kidane - all of whom were capable of medaling on any given day. There is only Tirunesh and she is injured. Haile was never the same after this first major injury. Who knows how Tirunesh will perform when she comes back?
It's time to acknowledge something is wrong to fix the problem. It took years to get here and it will take years to recover from it.
Friday, August 26, 2011
The first thought that comes to mind is I miss Tirunesh.
There is talk that Meseret Defar is in great shape. It's hard to discount Meseret Defar but she did have a streak of failure at big events. She finished 5th in Berlin. With Tirunesh absent this is Meseret's chance to win the 10,000M. Meselech Melkamu is a good runner but never grew into a champion. Don't expect much from Tigist Kiros. She is green and was a Marathon runner last year.
The Kenyans are lead by defending Berlin championship Linet Chepkwemoi Masai She is beatable. Tirunesh Dibaba and Meselech Melkamu beat her at the African championship. Sally Kipyego is also a dangerous runner.
Keep an eye on Shalane Flanagan of the USA.
Mohammed Aman advanced to the 800 Semifinals by taking 2nd place in a fast heat. He showed some inexperience. He had poor lane position and ran most of the race on the outside. He did however show good finishing speed.
The Ethiopians seemed so inept and unprepared. On this blog we have on numerous occasions suggested that the Ethiopian coaches need to change the training program so that Ethiopians can perform under hot and humid conditions. We know they don't read this blog. The weather where most of the Kenyan runners come from is not much different than Ethiopia. Sammy Wanjiru, by setting an Olympic record in hot and humid Beijing showed the weather is just an excuse. Proper training for the conditions is required. The Kenyans now know how to train their marathon runners for hot and humid conditions. The Ethiopians clearly have no clue. In any well run country such an embarrassing result would cause heads to roll. But in Ethiopia, they will continue to train the runners the same way and blame it on weather. Some things never change.
On paper this is a great team. Two issues that may affect the result:
1) Have the runners ran too many races this year?
2) The question is how will they perform in warm weather?
The second almost always is an issue with Ethiopian marathon runners and has been discussed extensively on this blog.
It would be a big disappointment if Ethiopia does not earn a medal. It would be a huge disaster if the team does not finish in the top 3 team race.
Women 3000M Steeplechase Heats
Men 800M Semifinals
Women 400M Semifinals
Men 3000M Steeplechase Heats
Women 400M Finals
Women 5000M Heats
Men 1500 M Heats
Women 1500M Semifinals
Men 800M Finals
Women 3000M Steeplechase Finals
The only event on this day is the 20K walk.
Men 5000M Heats
Women 800M Heats
Men 1500M Semifinals
Men 3000M Steeplechase Finals
Women 1500M Finals
Women 800M Semifinals
Women 5000M Finals
Women 800M Finals
Men 1500M Finals
Men 5000M Finals
Women 800M Finals
Often the hardest part is getting started. Inertia – a body in motion tends to stay in motion, and a body at rest tends to stay at rest. Who would have though Newton’s laws of motion applied to Roocha. I am back for at least a week and hope that inertia will keep me rolling after that. This week there are a host of things on my schedule so I will try to weave the blogging it in with the things I do – which means I won’t be updating as fast. For example on SaturdayI won't be able to update until late.
Daegu will be interesting. Track events in Ethiopia are at a critical juncture and Daegu may provide us some clues as to where we may be headed. I look for the next 10 or so days to answer a few questions.
Is Ethiopian Athletics in decline?
More and more talented runners are going straight to road racing. The pipeline on the track has not been replenished. Or has it? Do we have a young Kenenisa or a young Tirunesh? Are the younger runners competitive? What will things look like 4 years from now?
What’s up with Kennenisa?
Since his accention to the top in 2003 Kenny has been extraordinarly reliable. He is a vital piece for London ’12. Is Kenny fit? Does he have his heart in it?
Will the women’s marathon team dominate?
Gee.. this is a strong team they have. Can they dominate?
Will the Men’s Marathon runners ever learn to win in hot weather?
They seem to always melt in hot weather. Will this year be any different?
Men’s Marathon - will there be a spot for Haile?
If the men put a strong performance there may not be room for Haile on the 2012 squad.
Forget the Kenyans - I have always thought that this is an event that Ethiopians can dominate if focus is given. In past events Ethiopian athelets have shown that they can compete. The next step is medaling. Will there be a breakthrough?
Was Deresse Mekonnen a fluke? Will any of the women step up?
800m and 400m?
Is there hope?