Sunday, September 04, 2011

Day 9 Summary

Men's Marathon
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

Men's Marathon Team

There are no holdovers from Berlin. This is an entirely new team. On paper Gebregziabher Gebremariam is the slowest runner with a personal best of 2:08:14. He did run 2:04:53 at Boston but that time considered aided and does not count. The Boston time makes him the fastest runner. He joins a couple of 2:05 runners and a couple of 2:06 runners. This is a very young team. Feyisa Lilesa and Bazu Worku are just 21. Eshetu Wondimu is 25. Chala Dechase is 27. Gebregziabher Gebremariam's age shows him as being 26.

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.

Day 8 Summary

1500M Finals
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

Day 7 Summary

Women's 5000M
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

Day 6 Summary

Three more days to go and Ethiopia just has 1 gold and 1 bronze medals. No luck today.

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.