Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Leipzig start for World Indoor 1500m champion Mekonnen

Ethiopiaʼs World Indoor 1500m champion Derese Mekonnen is the headline signing of the 2009 Erdgas Leipzig indoor meeting in Leipzig, Germany on Sunday (1 February).

The 21-year-old surprised many last year when he won 1500m gold at the 2008 World Indoor Championships in Valencia, Spain, to become only the third Ethiopian after Haile Gebrselassie and Kutre Dulecha to win a World title at events shorter than the 1500m.

However, Mekonnen will be eager to return back to winning ways after a mixed 2008 outdoor season. Although he did improve his outdoor best at the event to 3:33.71 in Milan last year, Mekonnen could only finish fourth in the 16th CAA African Athletics Championships on home soil and was eliminated in the semi-final stage at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Apart from chasing victory against Kenyan Vickson Polonet (PB 3:36.45) and the Czech Republicʼs Michael Sneberger (PB 3:36.50) in Leipzig, Mekonnen (PB 3:35.51) will also try to become only the second Ethiopian to run under 3:35 for the indoor 1500m. Haile Gebrselassie, who won the 1999 World Indoor 1500m title, is the only Ethiopian to achieve this feat with five performances under 3.35 including his 3:31.76 national record.

Elshadai Negash for the IAAF

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lemiso's comeback highlights Ethiopian Short and Middle Distance Champs

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - A strong comeback performance by 2007 World Youth 3000m Steeplechase champion Legesse Lemiso was the highlight of the 2009 Ethiopian Short and Middle Distance Championships (9-11 January 2009), an annual three-day event among club athletes held at the Addis Ababa stadium.
The event, which also doubles as a selection meet for inclusion in Ethiopiaʼs national team, does not often attract the countryʼs world class athletes, but is the perfect chance for the countryʼs up and coming runners to put their case forward ahead of the track season in Ethiopia.
This yearʼs event served as the perfect chance for youngster Legesse Lemiso to launch his comeback after a largely unsuccessful 2008 season blighted by injury. After his surprise victory in Ostrava eighteen months ago, Lemiso was tipped to step up a level in 2008, but he failed to even qualify for the Ethiopiaʼs team for the World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
But yesterday (11) in bright sunshine at the Addis Ababa stadium, Lemiso was very much in control throughout a ridiculously-slow contest before kicking at the bell to take victory in 8:54.85, nearly a second ahead of Amha Woldetsadik.
In the corresponding womenʼs Steeplechase race, All-African Games silver medallist Netsanet Achamo took advantage of the absence of African champion Zemzem Ahmed, who was competing in the Elgoibar cross country, and Mekdes Bekele, who decided to give these championships a miss, to take a six-second victory over Bertukan Fente. Tsehaynesh Tsale came home in third.
The race of the championships was the menʼs 1500m that saw Abiyot Endale emerge as the winner in 3:45.34 ahead of Tariku Mengistu and Yehualashet Tadesse.
Elshadai Negash for the IAAF

Great Ethiopian Run launches 2nd edition of “Education for Girls”

Addis Ababa - Great Ethiopian Run, an Ethiopian NGO known for its annual international mass-participation road race in Addis Ababa, launched the 2nd edition of its “Education for Girls” series of community runs, a series of three events in Gambella, Assosa and Jijiga which promote messages about the education for girls in Ethiopia. The first run in the series took place in Gambella on Saturday 10th January 2009.
At the launch Haile Gebreselassie stressed the importance of giving more opportunities to girls by saying: “if a family has ten 10 children with 8 boys and 2 girls, it is better to help the two girls because the boys will always find a way of helping themselves”. Meseret Defar, also speaking at the launch, said that for girls in Ethiopia learning can help develop confidence and the feeling of being independent.
Haile and Meseret both appear in films which are being shown in schools at each of the race venues as well as at pre-race entertainment programs.
Great Ethiopian Run’s campaign to promote girls education comes at a time when the government of Ethiopia is trying to achieve 100% secondary school enrollment by 2012. Secondary school enrollment currently stands at just below 40%, but within this figure there is a big disparity between the number of girls enrolled compared to boys particularly in the regions of Ethiopia where the runs are being staged.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Gebrselassie, in record condition again? Million dollar bonus on offer in next week’s Dubai Marathon

Haile Gebrselassie doesn’t need to make a New Year’s resolution, in order to break another World record. For a start, the Ethiopian New Year begins on September 11, “so we don’t celebrate the European New Year,” said the man himself yesterday, by phone from his home in Addis Ababa.

And, although the World records have come with the same metronomic regularity that he applies to his marathon running, he won’t be drawn just yet on whether next week’s Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon, on Friday, January 16, will be his 27 (world best or record).

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Powerful displays by Tsegay and Masai in Amorebieta Cross

Amorebieta, Spain - Eritrea’s Samuel Tsegay provided a major upset today by taking a surprise win at the ‘55th Cross Internacional Zornotza’ held on a cloudy day and 10ºC on the thermometre. In doing so the 2006 World Junior 10,000m 4th placed overwhelmingly defeated by no less than 21 seconds Kenya’s Moses Masai, who finished fifth at last year’s Cross Country Worlds in Edinburgh.

On the women’s side Linet Masai of Kenya snatched a largely expected and comfortable 13-second win ahead of her compatriot and reigning World 5000m silver medallist Vivian Cheruiyot.

Tsegay against the clock - Men’s race

The men’s 10.7km event seemed to have a hot favourite in the guise of last year’s third finisher Moses Masai, who also took a creditable fourth over 10,000m at the Beijing Olympics. However, the pattern of the race became absolutely unexpected when the 20-year-old Tsegay took command of the race right from the gun to open a sizeable margin within the opening kilometre over his quality pursuers, Eritrea’s Kidane Tadese and Yonas Kifle plus Spain’s Alemayehu Bezabeh and Ayad Lamdassem among others.

The Basque Country’s athletics fans have a well-gained reputation as one of the most knowledgeable crowds in Spain and so all the talk was about Tsegay’s slim chances of coming home successful despite a handsome gap of 12 seconds he had built by the 2000m point on two sub-27:10 10,000m specialists such as Masai and Tadese.

Tsegay, who is coached by Jerónimo Bravo in Madrid, kept his clear advantage throughout the following 2000 laps, which he evenly covered in 5:57, 5:56 and 5:56 (23:41 for the 8km) while Masai and Tadese had managed to break away from the chasing group and travelled still 12 seconds in arrears by then.

Meanwhile, a fierce battle unfolded between the top Spaniards to be first local athlete home with Bezabeh and Lamdassem, who led Spain to the European XC title in Brussels in December, sharing the fifth place behind a lonesome Kifle.

Tsegay strengthened his winning chances with another powerful loop timed at 5:58 while Masai began to falter in his fruitless task of catching the relatively unheralded Eritrean and had to settle for fighting with Tadese to be runner-up after this pair ran no less than 22 seconds behind with 700m left.

Tsegay ran the closing stages with the same freshness showed during the race and romped home unopposed in 31:36 some 21 seconds ahead of Masai, who improved on his third spot from last year thanks to change of gear over the closing straight which left Tadese another five seconds behind.

The domestic battle witnessed Lamdassem’s success in fifth on Bezabeh, who performed barely four days after his 28:06 10k run for second at the New Year’s eve race in Madrid.

A joyful Tsegay commented after his win: “I’m more than happy for my victory. Last year I suffered a stomach virus but it took several months to find out the right diagnosis so I performed far from ideal conditions. This season I feel very powerful and look forward to my next outing in Fuensalida (Spain) next Sunday,” concluded Zersenay Tadese’s training mate, who placed eight at both the 2006 and 2007 World Junior XC championships.

Masai unstoppable again - Women’s race

The 6.7km women contest promised to be a Kenyan party thanks to the presence of the rising star Linet Masai and Vivian Cheruiyot, a double winner (2007 & 2008) in Amorebieta – venue of the 1993 World XC Championships - but the 19-year-old Masai, the reigning World bronze XC medallist from Edinburgh, proved to be too strong for the Osaka silver medallist in the 5000m.

With barely 1:45 on the clock Masai – still unbeaten on this winter campaign - went to the front to open a 15m advantage by the 2000m point (6:30) over her fellow Kenyan, herself 100m ahead of a chasing group comprising the last European Cross Country silver medallists in the guise of Portugal’s Ines Monteiro (2008) and Spain’s Rosa Morató (2007), the Spaniard having been fifth in Brussels last month.

For much of the race, Masai’s margin on Cheruiyot did not exceed four seconds but the latter could not join her younger compatriot at any moment. The second lap (4000m point) was covered in majestic style by the long-legged Masai in 6:27 with the threatening shadow of Cheruiyot some 20m adrift.

The key movement came in the third loop when the reigning World Junior 10,000m record holder Masai (30:26.50 for fourth at the Beijing Olympics) injected an even brisker pace which couldn’t be matched by the 25-year-old Cheruiyot, who had lost nine seconds to Masai at the bell with 700m remaining.

The European showdown saw how Monteiro managed to leave behind within the last kilometre a courageous Morató, eager to take revenge on the Portuguese who succeeded her as European bronze medallist in Brussels.

In what has been her shortest winning margin this winter season Masai get the better of Cheruiyot by 13 seconds, herself a full minute ahead of Monteiro who left Morató seven seconds in arrears.

“Today has been quite a cold day but I felt fine during the race. I like running at the front to be the in control of the race. My next outing will be next Saturday (10 January) in Edinburgh,” confirmed the Kenyan teenager, who has now a perfect card of three wins in a row at this year’s cross country season (Llodio 30 November, Alcobendas 7 December, Amorebieta 4 January), all on Spanish soil.

Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF

Leading results -

Men (10.7Km):
1. Samuel Tsegay (Eri) 31:36
2. Moses Masai (Ken) 31:57
3. Kidane Tadese (Eri) 32:02
4. Yonas Kifle (Eri) 32:14
5. Ayad Lamdassem (Esp) 32:17
6. Alemayehu Bezabeh (Esp) 32:22
7. Javier Guerra (Esp) 32:27
8. Cuthbert Nyasango (Zim) 33:00
9. José Ríos (Esp) 33:10
10. Eliseo Martín (Esp) 33:15

Women (6.7Km):
1. Linet Masai (Ken) 21:36
2. Vivian Cheruiyot (Ken) 21:49
3. Ines Monteiro (Por) 22:50
4. Rosa Morató (Esp) 22:57
5. Zulema Fuentes-Pila (Esp) 23:05
6. Meraf Batha (Eri) 23:19
7. Simret Sultan (Eri) 23:20
8. Aicha Bani (Mor) 23:53
9. Yesenia Centeno (Esp) 24:10
10. Marta Romo (Esp) 24:13

Friday, January 2, 2009

Sports in Brief: La Salle alum wins a frigid N.Y. run

Sean Quigley, a former La Salle all-American, won the men's title and Aziza Aliyu of Ethiopia took the women's in the Midnight Run through a frigid Central Park in New York City early yesterday.
Quigley, 23, covered the four miles in 18 minutes, 45 seconds. Brian Olinger of Columbus, Ohio, was second in 18:53, followed by Abiyot Endale of Ethiopia in 18:59.

About 4,000 competed in the event, sponsored by the New York Road Runners. The temperature was 18 degrees when the race started at midnight, but a 16-m.p.h. wind dropped it to just 3 degrees.

"I never ran in weather as cold as this," Quigley said.

Aliyu outkicked Emily Brown of Minneapolis by one second to finish in 21:21. Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia was third in 22:05.

Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops, 48, earned $3 million when the calendar turned.
A clause in Stoops' contract provided for him to receive a so-called "stay bonus" of $3 million after completing 10 seasons as the Sooners' coach through the end of 2008.

No. 2 Oklahoma plays No. 1 Florida in the BCS championship game Thursday in Miami.

Tulsa football coach Todd Graham, 44, agreed to a new 10-year contract for undisclosed terms that could keep him with the Golden Hurricane through the 2018 season.

He has a 20-7 overall record at Tulsa after coaching the Golden Hurricanes to their first back-to-back 10-win seasons.

Tulsa (10-3) will face Ball State (12-1) in the GMAC Bowl Tuesday in Mobile, Ala.

California football coach Jeff Tedford, 47, agreed to a two-year contract extension that takes him through the 2015 season, athletic director Sandy Barbour said.

The Golden Bears completed a 9-4 season Saturday by beating Miami, 24-17, in the Emerald Bowl. It was Cal's fifth victory in a school-record six straight bowl appearances under Tedford.

He has a 59-30 record over seven seasons.

Ohio State star Chris "Beanie" Wells is not ready to say whether the Fiesta Bowl will be his last collegiate game.

"I don't want to say I'm leaning toward staying or I'm leaning toward going," the junior running back said. "All I'm saying is I do want to be the best Buckeye to ever come through here."

The No. 10 Buckeyes (10-2) will play third-ranked Texas (11-1) Monday in Glendale, Ariz.

Josh Freeman, a junior quarterback for Kansas State, will enter the NFL draft, ESPN.com reported.

Andy Murray defeated James Blake, 6-2, 6-2, to set up a semifinal with Roger Federer at the inaugural Capitala World Tennis Championship exhibition event in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
In the other first-round match, Nikolay Davydenko ousted Andy Roddick, 6-4, 6-4, and will face Rafael Nadal in today's other semifinal.

Nadal and Federer had byes.

Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt edged U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps, 1,673 points to 1,557, in a vote for the 2008 athlete of the year by the International Sports Press Association. Phelps won eight gold medals at the Beijing Games; Bolt captured three on the track, setting three world records.
Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia, the Olympic pole vault champion, was named sportswoman of the year.

The organization includes journalists from 96 nations.