Genzebe Dibaba leads Team Ethiopia to World Indoor Championships glory
A 12-member team represented Ethiopia at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham from 1st – 14th March.
Leading Team Ethiopia was Genzebe Dibaba, who successfully defended her titles in the 1500m and 3000m races. Young and aspiring athletes such as Yomif Kejelcha and Samuel Tefera also took centre stage at the Arena Birmingham.
Ethiopia’s medal haul kicked off on the opening night of the Games with the women’s 3000m final where Genzebe Dibaba defended her title against 13 other women in a field that included world 5000m champion Hellen Obiri, 2016 world indoor 1500m champion Sifan Hassan and double European indoor champion Laura Muir to name but a few.
Dibaba crossed the finish line in 8:45.05 to win her third successive world indoor 3000m title, with Sifan Hassan taking silver in 8:45.68 and the UK’s Laura Muir bronze in 8:45.78.
Speaking after the race, Dibaba said, “I’m very happy to be world indoor champion for the third time. This is a great competition and the race was fantastic. This day is for me and my country…I wasn’t good in 2017, but 2018 is my time.”
On Day 3 of the Championships, Genzebe Dibaba, in the race for the world indoor 1500m gold medal, finished comfortably in 4:05.27, making her the second woman to complete a world indoor 1500m-3000m double.
This was the fifth individual world indoor title for Dibaba, who won the 1500m in 2012 before a hat-trick of 3000m successes in 2014, 2016 and now 2018. Only four other athletes have achieved that tally: Maria Mutola and Ivan Pedroso (both seven) and Stefka Kostadinova (five).
The UK’s Laura Muir finished second in 4:06.23, with Hassan third in 4:07.26.
“I am so happy to be able to do the double,” said Dibaba, “Last year I was sick but this time I was ready to run for my country. This is a gold for all the people of Ethiopia too.”
The last day of the Championships was for 18-year old Samuel Terefa, who swept past in the home straight to win the men’s 1500m finals in 3:58.19 – just 1.21 quicker than Sir Roger Bannister, who sadly passed away on 3rd March. Sir Roger was the first person to run a mile in under four minutes.
Tefera – at 18 years 134 days – became the youngest man to claim the crown. Fellow-countryman Deresse Mekonnen was 20 years 140 days when he won in Birmingham in 2003.
On the same day, 20 year-old Yomif Kejelcha successfully defended his 3000m title with a powerful display of front running finishing in 8:14.41.
Speaking after the race, Yomif said, “I’m very happy to be the world indoor champion again…I’m very happy for my country and my people. This year, I have been second sometimes but my coach has been working with me to make my race seamless…“Next year, I want to break the 5000m world record.”
18-year-old Selemon Barega, managed to sneak the silver medal, clocking 8:15.59 to Kenya’s Bethwell Birgen’s 8:15.70.
Team Ethiopia finished second on the medal table, behind the USA, with 4 gold and 1 silver. The United Kingdom finished fourth with 2 gold, 1 silver and 4 bronze medals.
Before their departure from the UK, the Embassy hosted the athletes and presented them with gifts in recognition of their achievements at the Championships and for the remarkable role that they play in promoting Ethiopia’s image.
Upon arrival in Ethiopia, the team were given a heroes’ welcome led by Ethiopian Athletics Federation president, Haile Gebrselassie (centre in blue jacket) and other senior officials.
Video: Embassy Staff Welcome Team Ethiopia
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