World Junior cross country champion Gelete Burika produced the best result of her short career this morning by beating the Tirunesh Dibaba the World 5000m champion on the last day of the 25th Ethiopian Championships.
Gebregziabher Gebremariam won a thrilling men’s 5000m race beating the favourite Dejene Berhanu to complete a remarkable 5000m/10,000m at the championships, while Ugula Obang became the first Ethiopian high jumper to clear 2.00m as the championships drew to a close.
Second gold and Addis Ababa stadium record for Burika
But this year’s Ethiopian Championships belonged to 19-year old Gelete Burika who stunned an impressive 5000m field that included Tirunesh Dibaba who also took a World Cross Country double last March, World 10,000m silver medallist Werknesh Kidane, and World Junior 5000m champion Meselech Melkamu.
Dure Tune took the elite field of 22 runners through the third lap as the athletes ran at a near-walking pace. Werknesh Kidane was the first to show discomfort in the slow rhythm of the race. Her efforts in upping the tempo dwindling the leading pack to 13 by the end of the 5th lap, and then down to seven by the start of the 7th lap.
Two laps later, Kidane opted to slow the pace down in a bid to save energy for the final moments of the race, but Melkamu upped the tempo further reducing the leading group down to four runners with Kidane, Burika, and Dibaba following her.
Melkamu’s courage, however, was all to her ultimate undoing as the trailing three runners flew past her with three laps to go. Kidane again threw herself up front in a bid to try and shake off Burika and Dibaba, but the duo stayed put.
With two laps remaining, there was little to choose from the trio as Dibaba moved forward, but was immediately caught by the other two.
Many expected a sprint finish between Kidane and Dibaba at the bell, but Burika slipped past the experienced pair to the thunderous applause of about 6000 spectators at the stadium. Dibaba slipped past the tiring Kidane in a bid to catch Burika, but the young Prisons club runner sprinted for the finish like a 400m runner to cross the line in 15:39.12, more than five seconds faster than Gete Wami’s Addis Ababa stadium record time of 15:44.63. Dibaba and Kidane followed each other in that order across the line with Melkamu and Werkitu Ayano coming home to complete the top five positions.
Burika anchors relay gold for club
With the crowd still cheering her impressive performance, Burika ignored the call of announcer who were waiting for her to receive her medal and returned back to the track to run the final leg of the 4x400m relay for her club Prisons Police.
A powerful run by Mestawot Tadesse had given Ethiopian Banks club the lead at the third exchange, but despite a near-fall baton exchange, Burika sprinted past her Ethiopian Banks rival with 50m to go before the finish to anchor relay gold for her club and win her third medal of the championships. It was a truly outstanding effort considering that there were only ten minutes between the end of her 5000m race and the start of the relays.
After the race, Burika said that she expected to win the race. “I prepared well for this doing speed training as well as endurance,” she said. “It gives me great confidence for the remaining of the track season.”
Burika is scheduled to run in the IAAF Super Grand Prix meeting in Doha, Qatar next Friday where she will come up against the World 5000m record holder Elvan Abeylegesse of Turkey.
Gold number two for Gebremariam
If Burika had not won three impressive gold medals, then the performance of the championships would have certainly been Gebregziabher Gebremariam’s long distance double in the men’s programme.
On the opening day, Gebremariam had been thoroughly tested by Abebe Dinkessa before sprinting past him in the 10,000m. This morning, he exuded confidence taking a gun-to-tape 5000m win against pre-race favourite Dejene Berhanu.
Gebremariam was always in command of the race when he pushed put what had been a walking pace taking only six runners with him by the end of the fifth lap. That pack included Berhanu, World Indoor 3000m bronze medallist Markos Geneti, Half Marathon runner Solomon Tsige, Ali Abdosh, and Maeregu Zewde.
With four-and-half laps to go, the pack was reduced to only four with Gebremariam, Bernahu, Geneti, and Zewde. A lap later, the first three increased the pace leaving Zewde behind and the struggling former World Cross short course bronze medallist was immediately caught by the trailing group.
Geneti tried to push forward with two laps to, but Gebremariam soon caught up with him. All three runners matched each other stride for stride at the bell, but it was Geneti was the first to make any type of move. It was Berhanu who responded this time with sprint of his own, but just when he was preparing to move ahead, Gebremariam closed him down.
Berhanu’s eye-popping efforts were more evident than Gebremariam’s comfortable stride that took him past the Ethiopian Half Marathon record holder for an impressive win in 13:45.65, forty-seven hundredths of a second ahead of Berhanu with Genetti finishing third seconds later.
Gebremariam described his achievements in Addis Ababa as one of the biggest in his career, but added that he had to work for both gold medals. “It was really difficult and I am happy to return back to form,” he said. “The 5000m race was a bit difficult because the rounds were short. My main aim this year is the 10,000 where I hope to better my personal best (existing PB 26:53).”
First Ethiopian jumps above 2m
In the day’s other events, Ugulo Ubang became the first Ethiopian to clear 2.00m in competition when jumped 2.05m in the men’s High Jump to take a comfortable title. Ubang had confirmed his win after just three rounds when his club mate Ujulu Oto failed to clear 1.91m.
Ubang cleared 1.92m at the second attempt to tie the Ethiopian record that had been held by Teshome Lemiso since 1997. Ubang then cleared 1.97m, 2.02, and 2.04 all at the first attempt before needing a third attempt to clear 2.05m. He then raised the bar up to 2.10m, but failed to clear the height on all three attempts.
Tadesse impressive in the 1500m
Ethiopia’s 1500m Olympian Mestawot Tadesse also won a tricky 800m race on Friday (6 May) to add to her impressive domestic medal collection.
The 19-year old, who was a 1500m semi-finalist in the 28th Athens Olympics last year, was challenged all the way by little-known Lense Kumsa, but stood her ground to corner a vital 2:04.91 win. Kumsa and Chaltu Girma occupied the remaining places in the medal podium. It was a return back to form for Tadesse who had lost out to the impressive Gelete Burka in the 1500m of the first day’s action.
Ethiopia’s top steeplechasers defeated
Ethiopia’s top 3000m steeplechaser runners Tewodros Shiferaw and Maru Daba were both defeated by relatively young runners in the final day’s action. Roba Gari won the race in 8:41.87 with Shiferaw (4th) and Daba (8th) finishing well off the pace.
Elshadai Negash for the IAAF
NOTE. After a change of schedule there was NO competition on Saturday 7 May, with the final day of events being moved to Sunday 8 May.
25th Ethiopian Athletics Championships Official Results
Friday, May 06, 2005 DAY FOUR
1. Habtamu Abeje (Omedla) 46.59
2. Eshetu Zewde (Defence) 46.94
3. Alemayehu Adebo (Ethiopian Banks) 46.96
1. Abiyot Abebe (Defence) 1:48.60
2. Ashenafi Haylu (Ethiopian Banks) 1:48.74
3. Haylu Denku (Omedla) 1:49.11
1. Sisay Mekonnen (Prisons Police) 27.58
2. Wondwossen Mandefro (Prisons Police) 25.80
3. Besrat Woldecherkos (Prisons Police) 21.81
1. Ashenafi Merach (Prisons) 95.41.82
2. Ayele Hitsan (Prisons) 97.27.24
3. Cherenet Mikofo (Prisons) 98.52.81
1. Mestawot Tadesse (Ethiopian Banks) 2:04.91
2. Lense Kumsa (Ethiopian Banks) 2:05.65
3. Chaltu Girma (Prisons) 2:06.65
1. Emebet Tilahun (Ethiopian Banks) 11.81 (Addis Ababa stadium record)
2. Tadelech Erwero (Ethiopian Banks) 11.81
3. Weyneshet Eka (Ethiopian Banks) 11.62
1. Hanna Haileselassie (Omedla) 55:26.54
2. Dessu Balcha (Prisons) 55:35.72
3. Bekashigne Aynalem (Ethiopian Banks) 55:53.09
Sunday, May 08, 2005 - DAY FIVE, last day
1. Gebregziabher Gebremariam (Ethiopian Banks) 13.45.65
2. Dejene Berhanu (Prisons) 13.46.12
3. Markos Genetti (Oromiya Prisons) 13.49.61
1. Roba Gari (Unity University College) 8:41.87
2. Eskias Sisay (Ethiopian Banks) 8:42.20
3. Nahom Mesfin (St. George) 8:48.22
1. Ethiopian Banks 41.60
2. Defense 42.10
3. Omedla 42.80
1. Ugula Ubang (Defense) 2.05
2. Ujulu Oto (Defense) 1.90
3. Dereje Haile (Oromiya Prisons) 1.80
1. Abdissa Tadesse (Prisons) 64.73
2. Abu Guye (Prisons) 59.75
3. Mohammed Hussen (Prisons) 59.23
1. Gelete Burika 15:39.12
2. Tirunesh Dibaba - time not given
3. Werknesh Kidane - time not given
1. Prisons 3:46.61
2. Ethiopian Banks 3:47.00
3. EEPCO 4:02.52