Ethiopia Names Olympics Track Team
On Monday one of Africa’s hopes for a large medal haul in the track events named its Olympics-bound squad. Ethiopia named a strong track team for the Beijing Olympics with world champions Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba doubling up in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres races. The other significant development is the inclusion of multiple world record holder Haile Gebrselassie in the 10,000m.
Gebrselassie, also the world marathon record holder, pulled out of the marathon race at next month’s Games due to what he termed as bad air quality in Beijing. But observers reason his withdrawal is spurred by the fact that the Beijing marathon race will be too close to the Berlin Marathon, where the Ethiopian legend is contracted to run in September. Additionally, he is widely expected to attempt another world record run on the same course where he shattered Kenyan Paul Tergat’s previous mark of two hours, four minutes, and 55 seconds by running 2.04.26. The Ethiopian Olympic Committee has named four athletes in some races, rather than the maximum three required, and will make a final decision on site in Beijing before the Games’ technical meetings.
Kenenisa’s younger brother, Tariku Bekele, Abraham Cherkos, and Ali Abdosh complete the 5,000m list, while Ethiopia’s 10,000m nearly man Sileshi Sihine will make another attempt at the elusive gold after he was named in the 10,000m alongside Gebrselassie and junior Ibrahim Jeylan.
Ethiopia will also field a strong women’s marathon team that has Berlin Marathon champion Gete Wami, Boston Marathon holder Dire Tune, seasoned Berhane Adere, and the promising Bezunesh Bekele.The Ethiopian Athletics Squad: (Men) 1,500m: Derese Mekonnen, Mulugeta Wondimu, Mekonnen Gebremedhin, Demma Daba; 3,000m Steeplechase: Nahom Mesfin, Roba Gari, Yacob Jarso; 5,000m: Kenenisa Bekele, Tariku Bekele, Abraham Cherkos, Ali Abdosh; 10,000m: Kenenisa Bekele, Sileshi Sihine, Haile Gebrselassie, Ibrahim Jeylan; Marathon: Tsegaye Kebede, Deriba Mergia, Gudisa Shentema, Gashaw Melese. (Women) 1,500m: Gelete Burka, Meskerem Assefa; 3,000m Steeplechase: Zemzem Ahmed, Mekdes Bekele, Sofia Assefa; 5,000m: Tirunesh Dibaba, Meseret Defar, Meselech Melkamu, Belaynesh Fekadu; 10,000m: Mestawet Tufa, Tirunesh Dibaba, Ejegayehou Dibaba, Wude Ayalew; Marathon: Gete Wami, Berhane Adere, Bezunesh Bekele, Dire Tune.
Additional information in this report was retrieved from the Kenyan publication, The Nation.