Aselefech Mergia seeks 3rd Dubai title, to invest prize money in Ethiopia

Dubai: Aselefech Mergia of Ethiopia, who defended her women’s Dubai Marathon title in style by breaking the course record and winning $250,000 in prize money for the second year in a row, is now eyeing a hat-trick here next year, reported Gulf News here today.

“This is a special place for me and it was a special day. I broke not only the course record but the Ethiopian record too. I’m now the best Ethiopian and with this time I hope to be selected for the Olympic Games.”

Mergia finished the keenly fought race in 2.19.31 . “It’s great to run here because the competition here has always been strong. I knew if I can run really fast here I can get selected for Olympics. I want to come back here next year and win again,” said Mergia, who many thought did not have a chance here with so many top runners in the fray, including Lucy Kabuu of Kenya, who was twice an Olympic finalist and finished seventh in the 10,000m, but was beaten into second by Mergia yesterday.

“I knew Lucy is a very strong athlete as she can run half-marathon very quickly, but I was confident because I know the course here very well. I prepared very hard and I am delighted with what I have achieved,” said Mergia, who has won the winner’s purse of $250,000 (Dh918,170) twice.

Create Jobs in Ethiopia

When asked what she will be doing with the huge prize money, she said: “I will invest the money in Ethiopia and create work for the poor people there and even help them. Frankly, I am so active in running that I haven’t even got the time to spend my prize money last year,” said Mergia.

Like Mergia, UAE’s Bethlem Desalyn has won the 10k women’s race for the second year in succession with a time of 34:14. “I am so happy to win it for the second time. I have been training hard in Ethiopia and will go to China for the Asian Indoors before participating in the London Olympics. I am targeting Olympic qualification in 1,500 and 5000m,” said Desalyn.