Sileshi Sihine (second from right) laps three runners in the men's 10,000m (© Zenebework Bezabeh)
World 10,000m Bronze medallist Sileshi Sihine ran the quickest ever time for 10,000m on Ethiopian soil, and there was a shock defeat for women's World 5000m champion Tirunesh Dibaba as the 24th Ethiopian track and field Championships got off to an explosive start here on Tuesday (4 May).
Sihine, who is also the World Cross Country long course bronze medallist, smashed his own 10,000m Ethiopian 'soil' record of 28:24.80 by a massive eight seconds to cross the line in 28:16.23, ahead of Dejene Berhanu with Gebregziabher Gebremariam, the double World Cross silver medallist coming in a disappointing third.
A high quality field that included Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist Assefa Mezgebu and World Cross short course ross bronze medallist Maeregu Zewde got off to a sluggish start. But Sihine upped the pace to move ahead at the end of the 10th lap.
His lead continued to increase until the 17th lap where he nearly lapped his closest challengers Gebremariam, Mezgebu, and Berhanu.
By this time, the race was well and truly won and the 21-year old slowed in order to save energy for the 5000m, which he will run against the World 10,000m champion Kenenisa Bekele on Saturday.
"I had prepared well and after lightning up the pace early on, I knew that I had won," Sihine said. "If I had stiff or a pace maker today, I know that I could have run very close to 28:00."
Melkamu shocks T. Dibaba
But the main story of the championships so far has been the shock defeat of World 5000m champion Tirunesh Dibaba in the women's 5000m by the World junior Cross Country champion Meselech Melkamu.
Dibaba looked to be cruising to a comfortable defence of her title after tearing apart the field that included World Indoor 3000m champion Meseret Defar, and former World 5000m bronze medallist Ayelech Worku.
By the end of half-way mark, her lead over the chasing trio of Melkamu, Amani Godana, and Sintayehu Ejigu has increased to 300 metress. She was also helped by the withdrawal of Meseret Defar due to stomach problems.
But Melkamu had other ideas...
By then, the spectators in the stands were beginning to leave the stadium because this race, one of the two main attractions of the opening day looked to be a one-woman show. Dibaba too begun to slow the pace down thinking that she had the gold already won. Melkamu, however, had other ideas.
After taking over second place from Godana and moving up field with two laps to go, Melkamu narrowed the gap to Dibaba to 100m. At the bell, the distance between the front two was 75 metres which reduced down to 20m as Dibaba entered the home stretch still confident that she had won the title.
Bbut Melkamu chased her all the way to win an amazing race in 16:01.94 less than second ahead of Dibaba with Amani Godana coming in third place.
It was only Melkamu's second 5000m race of her career and her second win against Dibaba with the first coming in 2003 in the 6km Junior race at the 20th Ethiopian Cross Country Championships in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
"I am happy with the way I run today," Melkamu said. "I used to run the 1500m and that was my plan for the summer. But now, I am considering the 5000m."
Dulecha beaten too!
Continuing the trend 16-year old Meskerem Legesse defeated the World 1500m Indoor champion Kutre Dulecha in the 800m, to defend the title she won last year. Dulecha, who has been in tremendous form in the European Indoor season with a world leading 4:01.90 for 1500m, looked to be struggling with an injury as Legesse crossed the line to win.
More action to follow in the two final days...
Day Four of the championships will be dominated by the sprints and relays, but the action on the final day will host some of the country's major long distance runners.
Triple-double World Cross champion Kenenisa Bekele is the favourite in the men's 5000m, but Sihine will be hoping to repeat last year's victory at these championships over the World 10,000m champion.
The women's 10000m will feature a head-to-head between World 10,000m silver medallist Werkinesh Kidane and the World Cross long course silver medallist Ejigayehou Dibaba, the elder sister of Tirunesh Dibaba who is hoping to bring victory back to the family.
Kutre Dulecha will have a chance to revenge her loss to Meskerem Legesse as the two go head-to-head for the second time in four days, thisd time at 1500m.
Finally, African Junior 3000m steeplechase champion Abraham Kabeto looks to extend his terrific domestic run of results with victory over defending champion Bulti Bekele.
Elshadai Negash for the IAAF
24th Ethiopian Athletics Championships - Official Results
Results compiled and translated by Elshadai Negash
Day 1- Tuesday, May 4, 2004
Men's 10,000m- Clubs
1. Sileshi Sihine (Prisons) 28:16.23 (Ethiopian 'soil' Record )
2. Dejen Berhanu (Prisons) 28:21.38
3. Gebregziabher Gebremariam (Banks) 28:22.90
Women's Shot Put- Region
1. Frehiwot Kebede (Oromia) 9.93m
2. Amelework Abera (SNNP) 8.46m
3. Kebnesh Beda (Oromia) 8.29m
Women's Shot Club- Club
1. Roman Abera (Banks) 11.15m
2. Selamawit Hailu (Banks) 10.96m
3. Debritu Tilahun (Banks) 10.50m
Men's High Jump- Region
1. Abdella Omer (Oromia) 1.70m
2. Derebe Berhanu (Oromia) 1.70m
3. Yared Shawel (Amhara) 1.60m
Men's Long Jump- Region
1. Mama Ed'a (Oromia) 6.40m
2. Getahun Lepiso (SNNP) 6.27m
3. Mesfin Desalegn (Oromia) 6.05m
Men's Shot Put- Region
1. Gashe Biftu (SNNP) 11.34m
2. Wondwossen Demissie (Dire Dawa) 10.96m
3. Mohammed Lase (Amhara) 10.72m
Men's Shot Put- Club
1. Sisay Mekonnen (Prisons) 12.92m
2. Tsegaye Woldesenbet (Defense) 11.89m
3. Wondwossen Mandefro (Prisons) 11.34m
Women's Long Jump- Club
1. Tadelech Erwero (Banks) 5.27m
2. Emebet Tilahun (Banks) 5.20m
3. Netsanet Getu (Prisons) 5.09m
Women's Long Jump- Region
1. Tigist Belachew (Oromia) 4.69m
2. Shewanesh Mengistu (Amhara) 4.50m
3. Netsanet Addis (Dire Dawa) 4.40m
Women's 5000m- Club
1. Meselech Melkamu (EEPCO) 16:01.94
2. Tirunesh Dibaba (Prisons) 16:03.15
3. Amani Godana (Prisons) 16:03.83
Day 2- Wednesday, May 5, 2004
Women's 200m- Club
1. Netsanet Getu (Prisons) 25.29
2. Leaynet Alemu (Banks) 25.49
3. Atkilt Webshet (Banks) 25.53
Women's Discus- Club
1. Meseret Gebretsadik (Banks) 32.94
2. Zewdenesh Beshah (Prisons) 31.75
3. Debritu Tilahun (Banks) 29.70
Women's Discus- Region
1. Meseret Gebretsadik (Banks) 32.94m
2. Zewdenesh Beshah (Prisons) 31.75m
3. Debritu Tilahun (Banks) 29.70m
Women's High Jump- Club
1. Haregewoin Mengistu (Banks) 1.57m
2. Haimanot Bekele (Prisons) 1.57m
3. Mekdes Bekele (Prisons) 1.51m
Women's 200m- Region
1. Chaltu Girma (Oromia) 26.05s
2. Elfinesh Wossen (Oromia) 26.17s
3. Gene Bekre (Oromia) 26.80s
Men's Long Jump- Club
1. Nigussie Getchamo (Prisons) 6.70m
2. Galawal Garset (Defense) 6.65m
3. Zelalem Aklilu (Prisons) 6.53m
Women's 800m- Region
1. Hiwot Teshome (SNNP) 2.10.36
2. Amelework Gesesse (Amhara) 2.10.60
3. Lishan Dula (Oromia) 2.10.87
Women's 800m- Club
1. Meskerem Legesse (Banks) 2.12.01
2. Kutre Dulecha (Prisons) 2.12.97
3. Mestawot Tadesse (Banks) 2.13.32
Men's 800m- Club
1. Samuel Dadi (Prisons) 1.47.66
2. Abiyot Abebe (Rental Houses) 1.48.34
3. Ashenafi Hailu (Banks) 1.48.50
Men's Discus- Club
1. Tsegaye Woldesenbet (Defense) 35.77
2. Mohammed Ali (Defense) 34.13
3. Desta Wakjira (Prisons) 34.12
Men's 400m Hurdles- Club
1. Ubang Abaya (Defense) 52.84
2. Getachew Alemu (Prisons) 53.27
3. Solomon Tesfaye (Defense) 54.82
Women's 400m Hurdles- Club
1. Tadelech Erwero (Banks) 1.05.77
2. Fekerte Dagne (Prisons) 1.03.00
3. Sisay Meseru (Banks) 1.04.18
Women's 400m Hurdles- Region
1. Terefech Godana (SNNP) 1.04.85
2. Etsegenet Zemela (Amhara) 1.07.54
3. Abiyot Amente (SNNP) 1.09.58
Day 3 - Thursday, May 6, 2004
Women's Javelin- Club
1. Aynealem Tekabe (Banks) 42.32
2. Bertukan Teffera (Prisons) 37.92
3. Logina Tafesse (Prisons) 37.18
Men's Pole Vault- Club
1. Seatu Tilahun Berhe (Omedla) 3.30
2. Yared Assefa (Omedla) 3.20
Men's 100m- Region
1. Abiyot Lencho (SNNP) 10.70
2. Dereje Deme (Oromia) 11.01
3. Abiyssinia Terefe (Oromia) 11.12
Men's 100m- Club
1. Wetere Galcha (Banks) 10.55
2. Aman Usman (Defense) 10.59
3. Tadesse Alemu (Defense) 11.01
Women's 100m- Club
1. Ayneaddis Tessema (EEPCO) 12.28
2. Atkilt Webshet (Banks) 12.57
3. Mertnesh Tesfaye (Prisons) 12.75
Men's Javelin- Region
1. Mohammed Hussein (Benshangul) 60.70
2. Abu Guye (Oromia) 60.38
3. Geshe Efatu (SNNP) 57.63
Men's 3000m Steeplechase- Region
1. Beyene Hunde (SNNP) 9.02.42
2. Hussein Seid (Amhara) 9.10.37
3. Chala Leme (Oromia) 9.12.22