Road-running specialists Yebrqual Melese and Mule Wasihun were among the winners at the five-day Ethiopian Championships in Addis Ababa which drew to a close on Sunday (14).
With many of Ethiopia’s elite track runners electing to give the championships a miss, the event saw many first-time winners with the top two in each race now guaranteed a place on Ethiopia’s team for the All-African Games in the Democratic Republic of Congo in September.
Well-known marathon runners Aberu Kebede, Afera Godefay and eventual winner Melese were the favourites in the women’s 10,000m. Many other elites gave the event a miss in order to focus their preparations for the official Ethiopian World Championships 10,000m trials in Hengelo on 17 June.
After a steady start, Melese moved to the front of the pack in a bid to try to liven up the contest. Her increased pace quickly dropped a large pack of runners until the pack was reduced to just 10 at the halfway point.
By then, Kebede had also moved to the front of pack and the pair continued to exchange the lead for the next kilometre before Melese made a decisive move that initially pulled only Kebede and Shure Demissie with her. But the chasing pair could not survive Melese’s front running with Kebede eventually dropping out after 19 laps.
Cheered on by the crowd, Melese continued to increase her lead and eventually stopped the clock at 32:40.23, almost 14 seconds ahead of second placed Demissie (32:54.09) with Gebeyanesh Ayele (33:22.49) coming home a further 28 seconds behind in third.
“I stopped my regular marathon training to prepare well for this 10,000m race,” said Melese, who set a marathon PB of 2:23:23 earlier this year when winning in Houston. “It was a tough race, but I got the win as I expected before the race.”
Unlike the women’s race, the corresponding men’s contest attracted two-time winner Belete Assefa, Gemechu Edao and former winner Yetwale Kinde who were the pre-race favourites. But the victory unexpectedly went to road-running specialist Mule Wasihun.
After a slow start, the race outcome was blown wide open when Assefa dropped out at the halfway point. It remained a tightly-held contest until the final lap when Wasihun emerged victorious in 29:25.22 ahead of Zewdu Hailu (29:25.33) and Merga Teshome (29:25.62).
“I was training on the road this year and needed to work on the track for one month to focus on these championships,” said Wasihun. “The victory was what I expected because of my focus and training.”
Getnet successfully defends steeplechase crown
Tigist Getnet retained her 3000m steeplechase title by pulling away from the chasing pack with 600m to go before stopping the clock at 10:03.40 ahead of world youth bronze medallist Woyneshet Ansa (10:15.23) and Asmarech Nega (10:16.19). Tafesse Seboka took the corresponding men’s race in 8:42.78.
In the middle-distance events, African junior champion Chaltu Shume beat her club-mate Kore Tola to take victory in a PB of 2:03.34 with Gadise Edera coming home in third.
Yobsen Girma won a close 800m race over Mengistu Alemu, 1:47.06 to 1:47.29, as the pair edged out Samuel Brhanu, who took third in 1:47.73.
Getaneh Molla was the winner of the men’s 5000m ahead of Moges Tiumay and Tesfaye Cheru. Kokeb Tesfaye won a tactical women’s 1500m in 4:16.77, while Mulugeta Assefa took the men’s 1500m.
Elshadai Negash (with the assistance of Bizuayehu Wagaw) for the IAAF
1 Yobsen Girma 1:47.06
2 Mengstu Alemu 1:47.29
3 Samuel Brhanu 1:47.73
1 Mulugeta Assefa 3:46.80
2 Chala Ketema 3:47.12
3 Aman Kadi 3:47.40
1 Getaneh Mola 13:54.83
2 Moges Tiumay 13:56.25
3 Tesfaye Cheru 13:57.57
1 Mule Wasihun 29:25.22
2 Zewdu Hailu 29:25.33
3 Merga Teshome 29:25.62
3000m steeplechase (14)
1 Tafese Seboka 8:42.78
2 Jiksa Tolosa 8:46.82
3 Tegenu Mengistu 8:47.22
1 Chaltu Shume 2:03.34
2 Kore Tola 2:03.83
3 Gadise Edera 2:04.24
1 Kokeb Tesfaye 4:16.77
2 Lemlem Hailu 4:17.68
3 Foten Tesfaye 4:18.20
1 Habtamnesh Tesfaye 16:21.90
2 Goytatom Gebreselassie 16:23.42
3 Meseret Taye 16:25.13
1 Yebrqual Melese 32:40.23
2 Shure Demise 32:54.09
3 Gebeyanesh Ayele 33:22.49
3000m steeplechase (13)
1 Tigist Getnet 10:03.40
2 Woynshet Ansa 10:15.23
3 Asmarech Nega 10:16.19