Wednesday, November 29, 2023
SportEthiopia's distance dominance continues

Ethiopia’s distance dominance continues

Nominees Gudaf, Tigist eye place among nation’s running royalty

Track and field’s international governing body World Athletics (WA) has recognized Ethiopia’s distance domination by nominating Gudaf Tsegaay and Tigist Assefa for Athlete of the Year award.

WA announced the nominations after a thorough selection process by a panel of experts worldwide.

Gudaf, known for her prowess in the 5000m and 10,000m, has enjoyed a remarkable season. She took gold in the 10,000m at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest before adding the Diamond League 5000m title to her resumé, setting a new world record in the process.

With these accomplishments, Gudaf has solidified her status as one of the elite long distance runners in the sport.

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Joining Gudaf on the shortlist is marathon star Tigist Assefa, who set the world alight with her Berlin Marathon victory. But the unbelievable was still to come – smashing the hallowed two hour and 20 minute barrier to set a new world best of 2:11:53. Her dominance on the road streets has announced her as the standard bearer in her discipline.

The phenomenal seasons of both nominees on the One Day Circuit and other elite races reflect the exceptional performances both athletes have delivered throughout the year at major events. Their achievements have helped make 2022 another memorable one for fans of the sport.

Ballots are now being cast to determine this year’s female World Athlete of the Year, with a winner to be unveiled at the prestigious World Athletics Awards. The event will honor the tremendous efforts of elites across track, road running, race walks and more who’ve gripped fans in 2023.

All eyes are on frontrunners Gudaf and Tigist as they aim to etch their names alongside illustrious Ethiopian champions of the past. Long distance great Solomon Barega swept the 2019 Rising Star Award in an early stamp of excellence.

Haile Gebreselassie became the first Ethiopian to take home the top accolade back in 1998. However, none have matched Kenenisa Bekele’s back-to-back wins in ’04-05 since.

Mesert Difar was the first woman from the country to claim the award in 2007. More recently, middle distance phenom Genzebe Dibaba and long running maestro Almaz Ayana hoisted the trophy in 2015 and 2016, cementing a rich legacy of success on the global stage.

With credentials that shine just as bright, Gudaf and Tigist now await the verdict on their duel for the coveted crown.

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