By Zecharias Zelalem
Day one at the 2017 IAAF World Athletics Championships in London is in the books. The name on everyone’s lips at the start and eventually at the end of the day, is that of the hometown hero, Mo Farah. The Somali born British runner, who is now called “Sir Mo Farah” since being knighted, was looking to close a big chapter in his career with his final competitive 10,000m race. A host of East Africans had hoped to rain on his homecoming parade, but for them, it just wasn’t to be.
Mo Farah’s cool, calm and collected approach saw him allow a plethora of runners from Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda jostle for the lead, employ team tactics in an attempt to drain each other out. Over the first seven thousand meters, Mo Farah remained in the leading pack but wouldn’t be drawn to the head of the group until the penultimate lap.
Ethiopians Abadi Hadis, Jemal Yimer and Anduamlak Belehu ran as a team for much of the race, attempting to counter the efforts of the other East Africans. But with a little over 2000 meters to run, the eighteen year old Anduamlak couldn’t weather the pace and dropped from the leading contingent.
While Jemal Yimer and Abadi Hadis ran consistently up until the final laps, it was quite obvious that they hadn’t worn the strong favourite and now six time world champion Mo Farah down in the slightest. He waited for his moment to explode, which he did just after the bell. At the bell, Jemal Yimer had drifted back, Abadi Hadis had been running neck and neck with Mo Farah who finally let loose and exploded past him, Abadi, who finished fifteenth in the final last year at the Rio Olympics, ran out of stamina as Mo Farah, Kenyans Bedan Muchiri, Paul Tanui and Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei all ran past him. By the bell, it was clear the Ethiopians were out of the podium finishes. Mo Farah held on and couldn’t be caught at the end as he crossed the line to the adulation of the British public. Cheptegei of Uganda got silver and Tanui of Kenya the bronze medal.
Abadi Hadis was eventually overtaken by his teammate Jemal Yimer who finished in fifth place. Abadi could only muster seventh for all his efforts, while Anduamlak Belehu came up in tenth place. For the Ethiopians, it is their second straight World Championship 10,000m race where they completely miss out on the medals. Prior to 2015, the last time an Ethiopian failed to medal in this event at a world championships, was 26 years ago at the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo Japan. After 1991, there have been thirteen World Championship men’s 10,000m races, nine of them have been won by Ethiopian runners, including four wins each by Haile Gebreselassie and Kenenisa Bekele.
In the women’s 1,500 meter heats which took place earlier in the day, Genzebe Dibaba comfortably dispatched of her opponents to claim her place in the semi-final round. The race saw her teammate, Fantu Worku struggle to compose herself and finish in tenth, which will not see her through. The second heat was won by Ethiopian born Dutch athlete Sifan Hassan, who came through at the end in a race that was nearly won by Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay. Gudaf finished fourth and will join Sifan in the semis. Heat number three saw Eritrean born Swedish athlete Meraf Bahta finish on top while Besu Sado, finished in fifth and joins her compatriots Genzebe and Gudaf in reaching the next round.
Genzebe Dibaba, Gudaf Tsegay and Besu Sado will all be in action tomorrow as the qualifying heats for the women’s 1,500meter final will take place in the afternoon.