Sunday, December 27, 2009

Bekele to target World 3000m mark in Birmingham

Birmingham, UK - The reigning two-time Olympic champion over the 10,000m, Kenenisa Bekele, will have his sights set on Kenyan Daniel Komen’s 3000m World record in Birmingham in February.

Bekele hopes to add yet another World record to his impressive collection at the National Indoor Arena (NIA) at the Aviva Grand Prix on 20 February, the ninth IAAF Indoor permit meeting of the 2010 season. Three of his five personal best times on the indoor circuit have all been set at the NIA.

“Five years ago (2004) I broke the world record in the 5000m at the NIA and I also broke the 2000m and two-mile* records at the same arena, so it is definitely a track I enjoy running on,” said Bekele.

“Now I hope to break my fourth* world record there, this time in the 3000m, however, it will be a tough record as it’s a very quick time to beat.”

The mark he’ll be chasing is Komen’s 7:24.90, set in Budapest in February 1998. Bekele has made several attempts on the mark but has thus far come up well shy. His indoor 3000m PB is 7:30.51, set in Stockholm in 2007.

“I’m delighted to be returning to the National Indoor Arena to run in the Aviva Grand Prix. It is always a great event to be part of as the crowd are very knowledgeable of their athletics.

“There is always a lot of noise in the arena which makes it so great to run in and I hope the people of Birmingham will get behind me as I look to break my fourth world record in their city.”

Organisers and Bob Ramsak for the IAAF

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Kenenisa Bekele prepares for Edinburgh Cross-Country

winner Kenenisa Bekele will bid to regain the BUPA Great Edinburgh International Cross Country title next month.

The greatest-ever cross country performer, with six IAAF World Championships long and five short course victories to his credit, took little persuading to return to Holyrood Park, Edinburgh, UK on 9 January 2010 for the IAAF XC Permit race.

“It’s a race I’ve always enjoyed because there is always a great field and of course I won my last World title there in 2008,” the 27-year-old Ethiopian said.

Bekele took the decision after that 2008 triumph to retire from the World Cross Country Championships.

“But cross country is still one of my favourite events and it will be a challenge to try to win in Edinburgh once again,” said the reigning Olympic and World 5000 metres and 10,000m track champion.

Bekele’s appearance in the Scottish capital will see him fully tested in a field which will include countryman Gebre Gebremariam, the reigning World Cross Country champion.

Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, the winner in 2005 is also returning for the nine-kilometres event.

Source: IAAF

Tirunesh Dibaba returns to Reebok Boston Indoor Games

Boston, USA – (December 15, 2009) – Ethiopia’s double Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba will be among the headliners at the 2010 Reebok Boston Indoor Games on Saturday 6 February 2010.

The 15th edition of the meeting, the second stop in USA Track & Field’s Visa Championship Series, takes place at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center at Roxbury Community College, Boston.

Dibaba, nicknamed the “baby face destroyer” for her devastating finishing kick, is one of the sport’s most accomplished stars. In addition to her three Olympic medals (Beijing 10,000m – Gold, Beijing 5000m – Gold, Athens 5000m – Bronze), Dibaba owns eight World Championship titles in track and cross country from 2003 through 2008. She did not compete at the Berlin World Championships due to a foot injury.

Back to full health, Dibaba showcased her recent fitness with a World record performance* in her 15km Road Race debut last month in the Netherlands. Her previous three World records have been at 5000m: the first two were set at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games (2005, 2007), and the third, which still stands, was set outdoors in Oslo in 2008.

Source: IAAF

Sunday, December 6, 2009

2:05:18 course record and personal best for Kebede in Fukuoka

Tsegaye Kebede, the defending Fukuoka Marathon champion, won the 63rd edition of the race in 2:05:18. It was a personal best for the Ethiopian by two seconds as well as a Japanese all-comers record.

The Fukuoka Marathon is an IAAF Silver Label Road Race.

Kebede became the first runner to defend his Fukuoka title since Gezehagne Abera in 2002. He improved on his personal best of 2:05:20, recorded in the 2009 London Marathon. However, he did not move up on the all-time list. Kebede also improved the course as well as Japanese all-comers record of 2:06:10, which he recorded with his victory here last year.

“I am very happy to run faster than expected. I don’t know how to describe my happiness in words,” Tsegaye said in a post-race television interview. “I was convinced of my win after 30Km when I started to run away from my competitions. I also knew that I had a chance for a personal best when I passed 40Km point much faster (1:59:01) than last year when I think I passed 40Km in 1:59:45.”

Behind him, two other Ethiopian runners improved their personal bests by a huge margin. Tekeste Kebede, with a previous PB of 2:09:49 recorded in Boston earlier this year, was second with 2:07:52. Tsegaye Kebede’s training partner, Dereje Tesfaye, improved his personal best from 2:11:42, recorded in Dubai this year, to 2:08:26 when he finished fourth. Tekeste Kebede ran more than a dozen marathons before he cracked the 2:10 barrier for the first time in Boston.

“Previously, I was training in a group with a coach but I am now self-coached,” Tekeste Kebede, 28, said. “I think it gave me an opportunity to think about the right training for me and that I think is the reason why I was able to improve the personal best by a huge margin.”

In between the Ethiopian pair, Ukraine’s Dmytro Baranovsky was third with 2:08:19. Not only was it his first sub-2:10 marathon since 2006, it was also his second fastest. Rounding out the top five was Evans Cheruiyot of Kenya who clocked 2:09:46.

Mekubo Mogusu, whose marathon debut was attracting a lot of attention, lost contact with the leaders at 26Km. By 30Km, he was essentially reduced to a walk. He stopped several times and stretched his leg muscles and made a valiant attempt to continue. However, he was finally forced to drop out at 31.4Km.

How the race unfolded -

With Yu Mitsuya, a designated pace setter, taking the lead immediately after the start, the race began with a three minutes per Km pace, a 2:06:35 pace, slightly slower than the 2:06:10 course record. After 5Km (15:02), pace setters Samson Ramadhani and John Kales took over the lead with the favorite Tsegaye Kedebe just behind them. Then just before 7Km, as Ramadhani and Kales picked up the pace, the lead pack was split into two. The front group consisted of two pace makers plus six runners, which include all major contenders like Tsegaye Kebede and Mogusu, who passed 10Km marker in 29:53 (14:51 second 5Km). The second group led by Mitsuya stayed on three minutes per Km pace and reached 10Km in 30:02. The wind was strong in the morning causing some concern but fortunately began to die down just in time for the 12:10 start. “The wind was a bit of a problem, but it was not a major problem,” Tsegaye Kebede said.

After 11Km, debutante Mogusu, who was attracting a lot of television attention, seemed to have fallen behind, only to catch up to the lead pack again. The race stayed fast, passing 15Km in 44:42 (14:49). Toshihiko Seko, a four-time Fukuoka champion, who was providing television commentary, pointed out that Mogusu’s form is now more efficient compared to the days when he was running college ekiden races.

The lead group passed the 20Km check point in 59:44 (15:02), while the second group lead by Mitsuya was 30 seconds behind. Cheruiyot who arrived Friday was trailing the first group. The half marathon split was 1:03:05, right on course record pace. The second group passed the half marathon in 1:03:35, at which point Mitsuya was released from pace making duty. Eight runners in the lead pack were still together at 25Km (1:14:57), clocking 15:13 for the 5Km split between Kms 20 and 25.

The first major contender to fall off the lead pack was Mogusu, just before 26Km. A half kilometre later John Kales, one of the pace setter dropped out. Tsegaye Kebede started to run slightly ahead of Ramadhani, the pace maker. Soon Tsegaye started to push the pace and Baranovsky, the 2005 champion, and the pace maker Ramadhani fell behind.

Tsegaye Kebede lead three other runners (Tsefaye, Cheruiyot and Tekeste Kebede) at 30Km with 1:29:47, while Mogusu was struggling as he was apparently having trouble with his left hamstrings. “If you don’t try to finish the race, you won’t really find out what the marathon really is. If his leg does not hurt, he needs to finish it,” Seko said. Mogusu dropped out at 31.4Km, however.

Meanwhile Tsegaye Kebede was breaking away from Cheruiyot and Tekeste Kebede. The big surprise was that Tefaye was the only runner able to stay with Tsegaye. However, by 33Km Tesfaye also lost contact and Tsegaye Kebede was running alone. He passed 35Km in 1:44:24 (14:37),the fastest ever split at 35Km in Fukuoka. Meanwhile, at 38.6Km Tekeste Kebede caught Tesfaye who struggled to stay with him, but by 40Km, Tesfaye fell behind by 13 seconds.

Tsegaye Kebede passed 40Km in 1:59:01, 44 seconds faster than his split time at 40Km from last year. He was also 1:54 seconds ahead of the second placed Tekeste Kebede. Tsegaye Kebede also covered the 35 to 40Km in 14:37, the fastest ever for this segment, before reaching the finish.

Ken Nakamura for the IAAF

Weather: cloudy; temperature: 10C; humidity: 42%; wind: 4m/s NNW

Leading Results:
1. Tsegaye Kebede (ETH) 2:05:18
2. Tekeste Kebede (ETH) 2:07:52
3. Dmytro Baranovskyy (UKR) 2:08:19
4. Dereje Tesfaye (ETH) 2:08:36
5. Evans Cheruiyot (KEN) 2:09:46
6. Luis Feiteira (POR) 2:13:07
7. Oleg Kulkov (RUS) 2:13:49
8. Harun Njoroge (KEN) 2:14:17
9. Tadashi Shitamori (JPN) 2:14:42
10. Vitaliy Shafar (UKR) 2:15:07

5Km - 15:02 - Yu Mitsuya
10Km - 29:53 (14:51) - Samson Ramadhani
15Km - 44:42 (14:49) - John Kales
20Km - 59:44 (15:02) - Samson Ramadhani
Half - 1:03:05 - John Kales
25Km - 1:14:57 (15:13) - Samson Ramadhani
30Km - 1:29:47 (14:50) - Tsegaye Kebede
35Km - 1:44:24 (14:37) - Tsegaye Kebede
40Km - 1:59:01 (14:37) - Tsegaye Kebede
Finish - 2:05:18 (6:17) - Tsegaye Kebede

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Kenya reach Cecafa quarters

Ten-man Kenya reached the quarter finals of the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup on Saturday after defeating Ethiopia 2-0 in Nairobi.

An early goal from John Barasa and Allan Wanga's late strike sealed the win for the host nation in the Group A game.

But Harambee Stars defender James Situma was sent off in the 85th minute for his second bookable offence of the game.

The win means Kenya finished second in the group with six points and will face defending champions Uganda in the quarter finals.

"The result will definitely inspire the boys against the Ugandans," Kenya coach Twahir Muhiddin said.

Uganda advanced to the last eight, holding Zanzibar to a goalless draw on Saturday to finish top of Group C with seven points.

Rwanda continued their good showing in the tournament after beating Zimbabwe 1-0 in Group B on Saturday to clinch top spot.

Ndayishime Yusuf's 10th minute strike was enough to clinch the victory.

Eritrea finished second in the group and ended Somalia's stay in the competition after defeating them 3-1.

The competition continues on Monday when Kenya take on Uganda before Zambia play Zanzibar in the last eight.

Tuesday's matches will see Tanzania facing Eritrea while Rwanda take on Zimbabwe.

Ethiopia's Tsegaye Kebede back in Japan to defend title

The 2009 Fukuoka International Marathon, the 63rd edition of the marathon once known as the unofficial World championships, will be run on Sunday 6 December. It may not be comparable to London, Chicago, and Berlin, but it may still be considered to be the best marathon in Japan.

The Fukuoka Marathon is an IAAF Silver Label Road Race.

Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia, the defending champion and the course record holder, is back to defend his title. Kebede, the bronze medalist at both the 2008 Olympics and 2009 World Championships, ran the fastest marathon on Japanese soil in Fukuoka last year. Furthermore, in last year’s race Tsegaye covered 30 to 35Km in 14:17, one of the fastest 5Km lap time ever recorded in a world class marathon. His personal best, 2:05:20, was set in the 2009 London Marathon. Kebede has run two other marathons in under 2:07 and the average of his three fastest runs is 2:06:03, the third fastest average behind Haile Gebrselassie and Samuel Wanjiru, the World record holder and Olympic champion, respectively. All things considered, Kebede should be a prohibitive favorite in Sunday’s race.

On paper, Evans Cheruiyot of Kenya, who ran 2:06:25 in the 2008 Chicago Marathon, is a main challenger to Tsegaye. Cheruiyot ran 2:09:16 in his marathon debut in December of 2007 and before improving considerably in Chicago just under a year later. However, in his last marathon, in Boston earlier this year, Cheruiyot was only eighth in 2:12:45, and thus he probably is not in the same class as Kebede.

Kebede is not the only past champion in the field. Dmytro Baranovsky, who won in 2005 and finished second in 2006 with the personal best of 2:07:15, is also returning. However, his best days may be behind him for Baranovsky has not broken 2:10 in the last four appearances. However, don’t count him out if the weather turns bad.

[NB: Updated at 17:00 CET to reflect withdrawal of Tsuyoshi Ogata]

Another past champion Tsuyoshi Ogata, who won in 2004, was one of the invited runners. He pulled out of the race at the last minute, which leaves Tomoyuki Sato, who has run 2:09 thrice as the best Japanese in the field. Sato thinks he can improve his personal best dramatically if his race reflects his training.

In debut, Mogusu aiming for 2:07

The most intriguing runner in the field is Mekubo Mogusu, a Kenyan who has lived in Japan since his high school days and who will be making his marathon debut. Mogusu decided to attend college after graduating from high school in Japan, a decision that perplexed many of his friends in Kenya. It is true that he did pass up the possibility of earning money for four years, but Mogusu emphasizes the importance of being coached by coach Ueda of Yamanashi Gakuin University, where Mogusu was a superb ekiden runner, recording stage bests in eight out of nine ekiden races he contested. That is not all. He recorded stage records in five out of nine ekiden races he contested.

Twenty-two year old Mogusu has the half marathon best of 59:48, and his marathon debut is awaited with much anticipation among fans as well as track experts. He’s setting his sight on 2:07 marathon noting that Wanjiru ran 2:06:39 on this course in 2007 in his debut. Wanjiru was Mogusu’s rival when both ran as high school student in Japan. One thing of concern is that in his latest race, the Nagoya Half Marathon on 23 November, Mogusu was only fourth in 1:02:01. He covered the first 5Km in 14:44, whereas the leader went out more than 30 seconds faster. Perhaps the time was slow because he ran a controlled race. He did not slow down in the last half of the race. It should also be noted that Wanjiru ran a mediocre half marathon a few weeks before the fabulous performances he turned in at each of his last two marathons.

Other invited runners are Yonas Kifle of Eriteria, who has the best of 2:07:34; Tekeste Kebede of Ethiopia, who has a best of 2:09:49; Jon Brown of Canada, who has the best of 2:09:31; and Oleg Kulkov of Russia, who has the best of 2:10:13. Although Kifle has run dismal championships, finishing 36th in the Beijing Olympics and failing to finish at the World Championships in Berlin, he has cracked 2:09 in each of three non-championships marathon. Tekeste Kebede’s personal best is the only sub-2:10 marathon in a marathon career spanning five years and 14 marathons. His bet however was recorded in his latest marathon. Brown’s claim to fame is his two fourth place finishes at the Olympics, and thus he knows how to peak for important races.

Statistically speaking, Fukuoka remains at the forefront of marathons in Japan. Using the best top-10 averages, Fukuoka is fastest among Japanese marathons. Additionally, of the top eight best marks for places in Japan, seven have been recorded in Fukuoka.

Ken Nakamura for the IAAF

Invited Runners -
Name, Personal best, Venue
Tsegaye Kebede (ETH), 2:05:20, 2009 London
Evans Cheruiyot (KEN), 2:06:25, 2008 Chicago
Dmytro Baranovsky (UKR), 2:07:15, 2006 Fukuoka
Yonas Kifle (ERI), 2:07:34, 2007 Amsterdam
Jon Brown (CAN), 2:09:31, 2005 London
Tekeste Kebede (ETH), 2:09:49, 2009 Boston
Oleg Kulkov (RUS), 2:10:13, 2009 Zurich
Mekubo Mogusu (KEN), Debut, 59:48, half marathon best

Japanese -
Tomoyuki Sato, 2:09:43 2004 Tokyo

Pacemakers -
Yu Mitsuya (JPN), 1:29:55 (30Km)
Samson Ramadhani (TAN), 2:08:01, 2003 London
John Kales (KEN), 1:00:47 (half marathon), 2007

Other notable runners -
Harun Njoroge (KEN), 1:01:04, 2008 Sapporo Half Marathon
Joseph Gitau (KEN), 1:01:19, 2008 Sapporo Half Marathon
Dereje Tesfaye Gebrehiwot (ETH), 2:11:10, 2006 Hamburg
Luis Feiteira (POR), 2:11:57, 2009 Praha
Vitaliy Shafar (UKR), 2:12:07, 2007 Eindhoven
Koji Ueoka (JPN), 2:15:03, 2009 Tokyo

The first private Athletics Village to be built in Sululta

Addis Ababa - Yaya Africa Athletics Village P.L.C, a new company established in 2009 has begun the construction of a modern athletics village in Sululta, 11 KM outside the city of Addis Ababa.

The project is worth an estimated 80 million birr and will be constructed in three phases. The shareholders of the company include two prominent athletes - Haile Gebrselassie and Belay Welasha, as well as an Ethiopian born Canadian businessman and former athlete Joseph Kibur. The facility will include a running track, hotel, restaurant, gymnasium and sports clinic. It is to be built on 50,000 sq. m. of land and the first phase of the project is expected to be operational by September 2010.

“Haile, who has been making athletics history for the better part of two decades is about to make a new history by building the first private athletics village in the country. I am happy and excited to be
part of this history”, says Joseph Kibur, President and major shareholder of the company. “our aim is to have the facility ready well before the London Olympics so that there will be enough time to
produce new talent and continue Ethiopia’s winning tradition”.

Once the facility is fully operational, selected individuals will be provided with the range of services required for world class athletes. This would include proper diet created by a professional, psychological training, climate controlled training rooms to simulate high humidity and hot conditions, doctors and massage professionals or injury prevention and treatment.

In addition to providing services for local athletes, the hotel in the facility will also be used to house foreign athletes interested in high altitude training. By making the facility a tourist destination it will earn the country foreign currency.

Source: Yaya Africa Athletics Village P.L.C

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ethiopia thrash Djibouti

Ethiopia have moved to the top of their group at the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup after 5-0 win over Djibouti in Nairobi on Monday.

The two teams were locked at 0-0 at half-time, but the Ethiopians unleashed their strikers in the second period.

The match was the opening game for both teams in the group stages of the regional tournament for East and Central Africa.

Aklilu Ayenew opened the scoring five minutes into the second half.

Ethiopia then stretched their lead when Adane Girma followed up with the second 10 minutes later.

Then Tefesse Tesfaye made it 3-0 before a brace from Umed Ukuri sealed the win.

Djibouti ended the game with 10 men after Daheri Hassan Ali was sent off with five minutes remaining.

Ethiopia go to the top of Group A on goal difference ahead of Zambia, who beat the hosts Kenya 2-0 at the weekend.

Coach Abrahem Haimanot said he was delighted with the win.

"We have trained for only a week as the Ethiopian league has just started and that is why we had a slow start to the match," he said.

His opposite number, Ahmed Gosheri, acknowledged that Djibouti need to improve rapidly.

"We have to play and register better results against Kenya and Zambia otherwise going home early is inevitable," he said.

The action at the Cecafa Senior Challenge continues on Tuesday when Eritrea take on Zimbabwe in Group B whilst Zanzibar take on Tanzania in Group C.