Genzebe Dibaba - national record in Shanghai (© Errol Anderson)
A host of top Ethiopian athletes will grace the Qatar Sports Club Track on May 10 for Doha 2013, the opening leg of the IAAF Diamond League, at a meeting that is known for producing great performances in distance events.
As an extra incentive for the country that took the senior and junior men’s team titles at last month’s IAAF World Cross Country Championships, Ethiopia’s most popular singer Teddy Afro will perform live in a unique music concert.
In the 800m, Ethiopia will be represented by 19-year-old Mohamed Aman, the only man who has defeated David Rudisha since August 2009. The 2012 World indoor champion, who is still a junior for the 2013 season, improved his own Ethiopian senior record last year with his 1:42.53 clocking in Zurich, defeating Rudisha for the second time in as many years.
Aman, who will face Rudisha once again in Doha, began his 2013 quest with a World junior indoor 600m record of 1:15.60, and then bettered the 800m national indoor record with a time of 1:45.05. Last weekend he opened his outdoor season with a 1:44 leg on the triumphant Ethiopian distance medley team at the Penn Relays.
In the 1500m, Ethiopia will be represented in Doha by World indoor bronze medallist Mekonnen Gebremedhin. The 24-year-old is a World and Olympic finalist, and last year he lowered his personal best to 3:31.45 to move to second on the Ethiopian all-time list, just 0.32 outside the national record.
Rising star Hagos Gebrhiwet and Doha meeting record-holder Yenew Alamirew lead a stellar Ethiopian contingent in the 3000m. After a stunning breakthrough season in 2012 when he set a World junior 5000m record of 12:47.53 and made the Olympic final at age 18, Gebrhiwet started 2013 by smashing the World junior indoor 3000m record (7:32.87) before winning the World junior cross-country title in Bydgoszcz. Gebrhiwet, who will turn 19 the day after the Doha meeting, hopes to leave Qatar with a second Diamond League victory following his win in Shanghai last year.
Olympic finalist Alamirew, who boasts a 5000m PB of 12:48.77, was the surprise 3000m winner two years ago in Doha, when he left behind a dozen excellent Kenyan runners to win with a meeting record of 7:27.26 – the fifth-fastest time this millennium.
Reigning World junior champions Yigrem Demelash and Muktar Edris cannot be written off either. Demelash struck gold in the 10,000m in Barcelona last year before breaking the Ethiopian junior record in Brussels with 26:57.56. Edris took gold over 5000m in Barcelona last year, and more recently finished third in the junior race at the IAAF World Cross-Country Championships.
World indoor champion Genzebe Dibaba leads the charge in the women’s 1500m. Last year at age 21, the sister of three-time Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba switched from the 5000m to 1500m. Not only did she win the World indoor crown, but she smashed her PB outdoors and secured her first Diamond League victory with a 3:57.77 national record.
In Doha Dibaba will be up against former compatriot Abeba Aregawi, who won the European indoor title earlier this year, representing Sweden. Both athletes will challenge for the World title in Moscow this summer after failing to get among the medals at least year’s Olympics.
Ethiopians will also play a major role in the 3000m Steeplechase in Doha, led by Olympic bronze medallist and national record-holder Sofia Assefa and World cross-country silver medallist Hiwot Ayalew, who are both among the fastest women in history with respective PBs of 9:09.00 and 9:09.61.
They will be joined on the start line by Olympic sixth-place finisher Etenesh Diro and World finalist Birtukan Alemu.
Organisers for the IAAF
2013 IAAF Diamond League calendar
Doha, QAT – 10 May
Shanghai, CHN – 18 May
New York, USA – 25 May
Eugene, USA – 1 Jun
Rome, ITA – 6 Jun
Oslo, NOR – 13 Jun
Birmingham, GBR – 30 Jun
Lausanne, SUI – 4 Jul
Paris, FRA – 6 Jul
Monaco, MON – 19 Jul
London, GBR – 26-27 Jul
Stockholm, SWE – 22 Aug
Zürich, SUI – 29 Aug
Brussels, BEL – 6 Sep