The National Athletics Team of Ethiopia finished first at the 13th African Junior (U20) Championship held in Tlemcen, Algeria. Ethiopia topped the Championship medal table with a total of 38 medals collecting 13 gold, 13 silver and 12 bronze medals from the competition.
South Africa finished second collecting 17 medals namely 12 gold, four silver and one bronze; while the host country Algeria ended up at third position with 20 medals (four gold, eight silver and eight bronze). Kenya finished 4th with 10 medals (four gold, four silver and two bronze.)
Ethiopia was expected to dominate the long distance disciplines in the championship. But, the team managed to show its strength in the short distance events as well winning 400m on day-two of the competition where Wogen Tucho Bayisa took the title in 47.65 over Tumo Nkape of Botswana, who clocked 47.83. Ephrem Mekonen Woldegabriel, also from Ethiopia, finished third at 48.87.
Ethiopia also finished first and third in the men’s 1500m on Friday, won by Welde Tufa Gurme in 3:44.39 over Boaz Kiprugut who clocked 3:44.78. Weretaw Esthete Hagos, who led for half the race, held on for third in 3:45.56.
Women’s 800m also saw victory for Ethiopia courtesy of world U20 bronze medalist Tigist Ketema Tebo in 2:05.85. Josephine Chelangat of Kenya, who led at midway, was second in 2:06.48 with Khadidja Benkacem of Morocco third in 2:08.26.
Ethiopia’s medal haul began on day one with gold and silver in the men’s 3000m steeplechase where Takele Nigatu took the title in 8:31.36 ahead of Tesfaye Deriba Ketema, who clocked 8:33.67.
On the closest race of the day, the men’s 10,000m race walking which took a photo to separate Yohannis Algaw of Ethiopia and the Tunisian Bahaeddine Gatri. Both were credited with a championship record of 44:43.47 with the Ethiopian given the gold.
Ethiopian Athletics Federation (EAF) awarded a total of 857,000 birr to members of the national team according to their result on the championship. 49 athletes participated on various events. Unusually, Ethiopian athletes won gold in 10,000, 1500, 400 steeplechase and relay competitions.
It is to be recalled that Nigeria, South Africa and Ethiopia stood first, second and third, respectively, at the 12th African Junior Championships held in Addis Ababa two years ago.
The African Junior Athletics Championships is a biennial continental athletics event for junior athletes from African nations. Organized by the Confederation of African Athletics and first held in 1994, only athletes aged 19 or under are allowed to compete.