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Ethiopian middle distance athletes shine

Ethiopian middle distance athletes shine

Over the past half a century, Ethiopian long distance athletes have made history time and time again. Dominating the track, long-distance and cross-country disciplines for the past 50 years, athletes representing Ethiopia alongside Kenya are the usual winners in the disciplines.

Ethiopia and Kenya have been the main stays in the record books in most long-distance races. However, it can be said that both rivalries were not much better at clinching middle distance titles. Regardless, over the past years, Ethiopian middle distance runners have shown hope, emerging as top future talents.

Ethiopian athletes dominated in the 800m, 1500m and 3000m distance races at the World Athletics Indoor Tour last week. At the Meeting Hauts-de-France Pas-de-Calais, Gudaf Tsegay produced a record breaking performance by taking two seconds off the world indoor 1500m record, winning at the World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold Meeting in 3:53.09.

Having done this, Gudaf went on to break into the all-time top 10 in the 800m race in the Meeting de L Eure at the Jesse Owens Arena in Val-de Reuil, France, in the World Athletics Indoor Tour Bronze on Sunday.

In a scintillating performance, Gudaf followed the pacesetter through the first 400m in 58.28, reaching 600m in 1:28.12 before registering another sub-30-second lap to cross the line in 1:57.52, moving up to ninth on the world indoor all-time list. Her performance was also a national indoor record and second to Maria Mutola (1:57.06) on the African all-time list.

“I am so happy because before the competition, I was focused on training hard, work every morning and evening,” said Gudaf.

Gudaf, who raced the distance in indoors for the first time, is garnering huge attention and is highly anticipated to represent Ethiopia at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

With Gudaf setting the example, Ethiopian middle distance runners also dominated the World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold race on Wednesday, February, 17, 2021 in Torun, Poland.

Lemlem Hailu, a 19 year old who specializes in middle-distance running smashed the 3000m race meeting record in8:31.24. Other fellow world record holder, Genzebe Dibaba, dropped out of the race 200m earlier on her season debut.

Lemlem is quickly becoming the first choice to represent Ethiopia in the coming Olympics.

In related news, the latest World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold event offered another packed program and records were broken in the women’s 800m as Ethiopia’s Habitam Alemu ran a big PB to improve the previous meetings best with 1:58.19.  

Ethiopia’s world 5000m silver medalist, Solomon Barega, won the 1500m in an indoor PB and meeting record of 3:32.97, taking over Marcin Lewandowski’s Polish indoor record of 3:35.71. Solomon is also well experienced in long-distance and middle-distance races.

The World Athletics Indoor Tour, formerly the IAAF World Indoor Tour, is an annual series of indoor track and field meetings, held since 2016. It was designed to create a Diamond League-style circuit for indoor track and field events, to raise the profile of indoor track and field, and replace the IAAF Indoor permit Meetings series.

It is to be recalled that in 2021, the tour expanded by introducing three levels of competition, Gold, Silver and Bronze. The tour is organized to allow for major indoor championships including the World Athletics Indoor Championships and The European Athletics Indoor Championships and, where appropriate, national championships and trials.

At each meeting, a minimum of 12 events are to be staged. Included in the 12 events will be a core group of five or six events split across the two-season cycle. Points will be allocated to the best four athletes in each event, with the winner getting 10 points, the runner up receiving seven points, the third-place finisher getting five points and the athlete in fourth receiving three points.

Though, the individual overall winner of each event will receive USD 20,000 in prize money and, beginning with the 2016 edition in Portland, will automatically qualify  for the next edition of the World Athletics Indoor Championships as a ‘wild card’ entry, provided the member federation of that World Indoor Tour winner agrees to enter the athlete.