40-strong team in London for World Championships
A 40-member team represented Ethiopia at the IAAF World Championships in London from 4th – 13th August.
Notable athletes such as the Dibaba sisters (Tirunesh and Genzebe), Almaz Ayana, Muktar Edris, Mohammed Aman and other younger aspiring athletes took centre stage at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Stadium in front of a record number of spectators.
Held in the UK for the first time ever, 2,200 athletes from 203 nations travelled to London while fans from across Britain and the globe poured into the London Stadium and onto the capital’s streets to make history – The London championships has been awarded an official Guinness World Record for the number of tickets sold at any IAAF World Championships event.
Long-distance legend and current world and Olympic record holder in both 5,000m and 10,000m events, Kenenisa Bekele, excluded himself from the selection due to current form, saying “I’m not fit enough to compete at the event.”
Ethiopia’s medal haul kicked off with an Ethiopian 1-2 in the women’s 10,000m final, which saw Almaz Ayana secure the gold medal in style, finishing around 300 metres clear of her rivals, in what was her first race this year.
The 25-year old finished in 30:16.32 while compatriot Tirunesh Dibaba, the former world and Olympic champion, took the silver with Kenya’s Agnes Tirop in third.
In a press conference after the race, Ayana said, “I am very happy to win this title, much more than when I won the Olympic gold because I have been sick this year and didn’t expect it. In fact, this was my first race of 2017.”
In the men’s marathon on 6th August, Tamrat Tola finished in second place behind Kenya’s Geoffrey Kirui.
Tola, the Rio 10,000m bronze medallist and fastest in the field, required medical treatment after the race, finishing in 2:09:49 ahead of Tanzania’s Alphonce Simbu in third place.
“I am very happy and proud with my result, I do not feel like I lost the gold medal,” said Tola. “Although I was in pain I was able to finish the marathon…The course was difficult for me with so many curves and four laps, this makes it difficult for me. I have never run a course like this. Last time I took the bronze, now the silver, so I want to improve a lot next time. What is next for me will be to treat my leg, train hard and then get the gold medal.”
But the highlight of the 10-day tournament was perhaps the 5,000m final where 23-year old Muktar Edris ended Mo Farah’s dominance of the distance. The 2012 World Youth Champion produced a strong charge on the final stretch to lift his first ever major senior world title in 13:32.79, with Farah finishing in second place in 13:33.22. Paul Kipkemoi Chelimo of the United States took bronze in 13:33.30.
After the race, Muktar said, “I was highly prepared for this race and I knew I was going to beat Mo Farah…I am the new champion for Ethiopia…I did the Mobot out of respect as well as for him.”
Compatriots Yomif Kejelcha and this year’s U18 3,000m winner, Selemon Barega, finished fourth and fifth respectively.
On the last day of the Championships, Almaz secured a silver medal in the women’s 5,000m finals behind Kenya’s Hellen Obiri. Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands finished in third place.
“Compared to Rio this is a bigger achievement,” Almaz said. “I’ve had many injuries this year so I am very happy with two medals. I have been injured for the whole season and haven’t been able to get over it. The pain came back after the 10,000m. I did my best today but Hellen was too good at finishing…I won’t give up going for 5000m and 10,000m. I won gold and bronze in Rio and now gold and silver, so this is a step up.”
Farewell to Bolt
The last day of the athletics also featured a special tribute to Usain Bolt, who is retiring from athletics after winning a record 11 golds and a total of 14 medals. Bolt was presented with a framed piece of lane seven of the original track in the same arena, in which he won the second of his three Olympic 100m titles (in a Games record of 9.63) and 200m titles (in 19.32) in 2012, by IAAF President Sebastian Coe and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
Team Ethiopia finished seventh in the medal table with 5 medals, two gold and three silver, behind the United Kingdom which secured 6 medals – 2 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze. Ethiopia came in third place in the Championships from Africa, with Kenya first and South Africa second.
Upon their departure from the UK, the Embassy presented a certificate of appreciation to the Ethiopian Athletics Federation in recognition of the salient results obtained from the Championships and also for the remarkable role that the athletes have played in promoting Ethiopia’s image internationally.
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