IAAF World Athletics Championships: Team Ethiopia – Men
Who will don the Ethiopian national team kit in London? We take an event by event look at the men selected to represent Ethiopia at the 2007 IAAF World Championships in London.
By Zecharias Zelalem
800m: Mohammed Aman and Mamush Lencha
Mohammed Aman’s potential is fading away rather quickly. His meteoric rise to stardom saw him excel at junior level before making the transition to the national team when he was just seventeen. Ethiopia rarely provide serious competition in the 800m event, but Mohammed’s 2011 win at the Notturna di Milano in which he ended legendary David Rudisha’s 26 race winning streak on a rainy night in Milan marked him as one to watch. A sixth place London 2012 finish was put down to lack of experience, but a year later he was said to have come of age, taking the world title at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, the height of his career thus far. In 2015, he relocated to the American city of Eugene Oregon, where he is still based. Injuries have taken a toll on him, but even after regaining his health he has been unable to produce the results that saw him win ten 800 meter races in 2013. At the 2015 World Championships, he collided with Dutch athlete Thimjen Kupers and was disqualified at the semi-final stage, whereas at last year’s Olympics he finished last in his semi-final heat and failed to reach the 800 m final. His failure to deliver last year was a massive disappointment. Once seen as a serious medal hopeful wherever he traveled, Mohammed Aman’s drop in caliber doesn’t see him rank among the favourites in London. He will most likely hope to use the competition as a stepping tool in a bid to regain his status as a world beater.
20 year old Mamush Lencha meanwhile seeks to use London 2017 to establish himself as a regular selectee. He clocked a time of 1:46.05 at the FBK Games in Hengelo, Netherlands this year to seal his national team spot.
1500m: Aman Wote , Samuel Berhanu and Teresa Tolosa
Aman Wote, 33, is taking part in his third World Championships. The middle distance runner qualifying for yet another major event despite his rather bare medal cabinet and series of poor finishes testifies to Ethiopia’s inability to produce talent for the 1,500 meter race, long seen as the country’s Achilles heel. Despite this, his registering a time of 3:31.63 at a meet in Stockholm this year ranks him the best this year among Ethiopians and the fifth best in the world. He also came out on top, winning the event at a Diamond League meet in Luzanne, Switzerland last month. So despite his age, he may be reaching peak fitness. He will hope to make the most of his latest Hail Mary crack at winning a major title for his country.
Teresa Tolosa, 19, and Samuel Berhanu, 18, finished first and second respectively in the national championships this year and London should be an invaluable learning experience on which the teens can built their careers.
3000m steeplechase: Getnet Wale, Tesfaye Seboka and Tesfaye Diriba
The men’s 3000m steeplechase event, one that Ethiopia rarely gets a grip on winning, will see a trio of youngsters look to make a name for themselves. Tesfaye Diriba is 18, while namesake Tesfaye Seboka, 23, is the current Ethiopian national champion. Getnet Wale, 17, is the youngest member of the entire athletics contingent that will be representing Ethiopia. Despite his young age and relative inexperience, he made a name for himself last year as a sixteen year old running at the U-20 IAAF World Championships in Bydgoszcz Poland. There, in the 3000m event, he exhibited his resilience and determination to get up from falling twice at the water jump to race home and eventually dive into third place for a photo finish that earned him a bronze medal.
5,000m: Muktar Endris, Solomon Barega, Yomif Kejelcha and Hagos G/Hiwot
Muktar Edris has seen his progress somewhat stalemated in recent years. The 23 year old, who burst onto the scene with his gold medal at the 2012 World Juniors had some believing his would be a meteoric rise to stardom. He is among those unfortunate enough to have the expectation of replacing Kenenisa Bekele lumped against them. Still, he appears to be in top form, and his winning two Diamond League races last month (The 3000m in Paris followed by the 5000m in Lausanne) barely a week apart further testifies to this. He told reporters he felt like this was a good omen ahead of London 2017. Still he faces off against the greatest challenger to Ethiopian athletic domination in recent times, Britain’s Mo Farah, who will be looking to sign off in style in front of a home crowd. He’ll hope to overcome the disappointment of Rio 2016, in which he was disqualified in the final for a lane violation.
Meanwhile, Ethiopia may have unearthed an absolute gem in 17 year old Solomon Barega. The athletics world is a buzz about the young star who just made the transition to senior level running. As a junior, he swept the accolades, including gold in the 5000m at the world’s in Bydgoszcz Poland last year, before a standout 2017 sealed his selection for London 2017. This year saw him win gold at the African Junior’s in Algeria last month with a scintillating run around the last bend reminiscent of the likes of Haile and Kenenisa in their prime. He followed that up with another late acceleration to win an exciting 3000m final at the World U-18’s in Nairobi weeks later. Without a doubt the best teenage long distance runner in the world today, he’ll get a taste of his first senior international competition. Ethiopian athletics fans see in Solomon a glorious future but he is already looking to the immediate future, stating that his goal is to win for his country in London.
The tall lanky framed Yomif Kejelcha will also be aching for a shot at glory in London, after being among those axed from the final Rio Olympic squad this time last year. Also among the youngsters shouldered with expectation due to his illustrious junior career, Yomif, who just turned 20, is currently a joint leader in the global Diamond League standings for the 5000m event alongside teammate Muktar Edris. He’s also in top form and looks to finally medal for his country at senior level in London.
Hagos Gebrehiwot is the most decorated athlete at senior level from Ethiopia’s quartet of 5000m runners. Still aged just 23, the Olympic bronze medalist will look to improve on his 2015 World Championship third place and 2013 World Championship second place finishes, both races where he lost out to winner Mo Farah. He qualified for London 2017 as a result of his outstanding 2016 in which he finished the year leading the 5000m standings for the 2016 Diamond League. For Hagos, he’ll hope its third time lucky as he goes up against Mo Farah for a world title yet again.
10,000m: Abadi Hadis, Jemal Yimer and Anduamlak Belehu
There will be a lot less firepower in the Ethiopian arsenal for the men’s 10,000m event. Nowhere near as decorated or as reputed as their predecessors, the likes of Abadi Hadis, who finished a rather paltry 15th in the Olympic final last year, aren’t seriously expected to challenge for honours. Nineteen year old Abadi Hadis was the winner at the trial event in Hengelo this year, while Jemal Yimer came in second at the same event. Anduamlak Belehu, 18, won the 10,000m title at the Ethiopian championships this year, rising from total obscurity to beat one of the world’s top athletes in Muktar Edris back at Addis Ababa Stadium.
Marathon: Tamirat Tola, Tsegaye Mekonnen and Yemane Tsegaye
25 year old Tamirat Tola has made an early switch from the track to the marathon course and it paid off earlier this year with the 10,000m Olympic bronze medalist pocketing a cool 200,000$ as a result of his winning the Dubai Marathon. He’ll be joined by another marathoner who announced himself to the world at the same venue, 2014 Dubai Marathon winner Tsegaye Mekonnen. Tsegaye’s selection was earned as a result of his Hamburg Marathon heroics in April, where he came out on top in a duel with defending Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda, winning the race. It was his first marathon win in three years and it brought him back into national team contention ahead of the strong competition in the likes of Tsegaye Kebede and Lelisa Desisa. Meanwhile Yemane Tsegaye, husband of Ethio-Swedish athlete Abeba Aregawi, will be the senior member of the marathon team. The 32 year old won the marathon silver medal at the 2015 World Championships and is in the team ahead of the legendary Kenenisa Bekele, whom many thought was a shoe in for the marathon team. The three time Olympic gold medalist ruled himself out of the competition, stating he wasn’t feeling fit.