Another chapter of the EthiopiaKenya titanic rivalry in the endurance events was written today in Barcelona. Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris confirmed he was the fastest athlete among the entrants this year as he romped home successful in 13:38.85.
In doing so Ethiopia sums up a tally of seven gold medals to match the Kenyan figures at the event, both countries having won all the 14 titles at stake.
It was the second Ethiopian Tsegaye Mekonnen who towed most of the pack through a 2:46.36 opening kilometre. Kenya’s World Youth 3000m champion William Sitonik moved to the front then but the rhythm slowed down and the still large leading pack hit the 2000m in 5:38.01 for a 2:51.65 split.
The first serious movement was made by Eritrea’s Abrar Osman Adem, the 2010 Youth Olympic 3000m champion, who injected a much brisker pace to go through the 3000m point in 8:19.58, 2:41.57 for the last kilometre.
Edem’s pace proved to be enough to leave behind more than half of the field but nine men were still in contention: the two Ethiopians, the two Kenyans, the two Ugandans, the two Moroccans and Edem himself although Morocco’s Soufiyan Bouqantar dropped out shortly afterwards.
Over the closing part of the race – the unremarkable fourth kilometre was covered in 2:47.84 - there was a never ending number of leaders but none of them managed to break away from the others. Actually, still eight men had winning chances 600m from home.
It was Edris who unleashed the decisive kick just before the bell with Adem closest to the Ethiopian but Edris had built a 10m advantage on the Eritrean with some 200m remaining to secure the gold medal.
Attention then turned to the close fight for the silver medal as coming from behind Sitonik threatened Adem’s runner-up position but the Eritrean finally prevailed, with time of 13:40.52 and 13:38.95 respectively.
Immediately behind the medallists, there was a trio of PBs for Morocco’s Younes Essalhi in fourth (13:41.69), Ethiopia’s Tsegaye Mekonnen in fifth (13:44.43) and Uganda’s Phillip Kipyego in sixth (13:45.52).
The Ethiopian frantic last lap only took him 52.91.