Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ethiopia's Berhane Adere and Kenya's Salina Kosgei to provide half-marathon with star power

By The Times-Picayune
February 24, 2010, 1:00AM
When Matt Turnbull constructs a women’s marathon field, he attempts to focus beyond occurrences that give most spectators pause. Yes, it is wonderful when world records are pushed. Yes, it is outstanding when analysts boast about an event’s thrilling finish.

But Turnbull, in his eighth year recruiting elite runners, hopes for something more when the Rock ‘n’ Roll Mardi Gras Marathon & Half-Marathon’s elite women’s field approaches the starting line Sunday morning: fireworks at the race’s beginning, midpoint and end.

After convincing two of the world’s best distance runners — Ethiopia’s Berhane Adere and Kenya’s Salina Kosgei — to participate in the event’s half-marathon, he might have accomplished his wish.

“I just want the race to be competitive,” said Turnbull, the Competitor Group’s elite athlete coordinator. “I try to put together a field that will create a race. In an ideal situation, you have the top U.S. runner against two or three established East African runners and one or two Europeans, and try to build a nice international field that you know will produce a competitive race.”

Many anticipate Adere and Kosgei to be competitive throughout the flat 13.1-mile course that begins at Tchoupitoulas and Race streets and ends outside Tad Gormley Stadium. Adere, 36, won a gold medal at the 2002 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Brussels and won the 2006 and 2007 Chicago Marathons. She ran a personal-best 1 hour, 8 minutes, 17 seconds at the 2001 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Bristol, England, where she won a bronze medal.

Last April, Kosgei, 33, won the Boston Marathon over Ethiopia’s Dire Tune by a second. Kosgei also won the 2006 and 2008 Lisbon Half Marathons and holds a personal-best 1:07:52, set at the 2006 Lisbon event.

“They’re two heavy hitters,” said Toni Reavis, veteran running commentator and writer. “They’re two big guns, that’s for sure.

“They’re well-matched. They both have the same goals. They both are in the same time frame. It all stacks up pretty well as being a really interesting match race.”

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Mardi Gras Marathon appears attractive to elite athletes such as Adere and Kosgei because of opportune timing. The Boston Marathon takes place April 19, and the London Marathon is April 25.

Athletes view MGM’s half marathon as a reliable tuneup to measure their training progression before competing in the venerable spring races.

“It gives a good indicator of what your fitness is for the marathon,” said Kim Smith, who won the 2004 NCAA women’s individual cross country championship running for Providence College and currently is training for the London Marathon. “With marathon training, you don’t get to race too often. You have to do a lot of training. This race will break it up.”

In the full marathon, there will be a new champion. Autumn Ray, MGM’s 2008 and 2009 winner, will not participate because of back and hip pain experienced after racing in December’s California International Marathon, where she finished 166th. Australian Karen Barlow, who is attempting to qualify for the Commonwealth Games in October in New Delhi, is expected to push for first place.

But MGM’s female stars are found in the half-marathon. Adere and Kosgei have set their sights on larger prizes. Later this spring, Adere will race in the London Marathon; Kosgei will defend her Boston Marathon crown. On Sunday, they will test each other.

“You would make a huge mistake not to bet on one of these two ladies,” said Tracy Sundlun, the Competitor Group’s vice president of events.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Melkamu and unheralded A. Bekele take Ethiopian World XC trials titles

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - World championships 10,000m silver and reigning World Cross Country bronze medallist Meselech Melkamu and unheralded Azmeraw Bekele were the winners of the senior women’s and men’s races at the 27th Jan Meda International Cross Country- Ethiopian trials for the world cross country championships- at the Jan Meda race course in northern Addis Ababa on Sunday (21).

In the junior ranks, Afera Gedefe grabbed a shock victory in the women’s race, while Berhanu Delele was a comfortable winner of the corresponding men’s race.

Melkamu dominates, Deskas improvement continues

With Cross Country specialists Tirunesh Dibaba and Gelete Burka competing indoors in Birmingham a day earlier and thus absent from the trials, Melkamu, a three-time senior 8km bronze medallist, was the prohibitive favorite going into the contest. She duly proved her billing sprinting ahead of marathon runner Mamitu Deska to take her fourth national title in the event.

After a nervy start, five athletes including Melkamu, Deska, reigning World junior champion Genzebe Dibaba, World junior 5000m champion Sule Utura, and 2003 World Cross Country long course champion Werknesh Kidane formed a leading pack at the half way point.

Dibaba, who was struggling with pain throughout the initial stages, then dropped out of the contest leaving the four athletes to battle it out for victory. Utura and then Kidane also dropped back as Melkamu and Deska pushed the pace from the front.

Deska, winner of the Dubai Marathon in January, had skipped Friday’s Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon deliberately to make the Ethiopian team for the World Cross Country championships in Bydgoscz, Poland. But Melkamu’s finishing speed was too much for the road runner who had to settle for second place, 42 seconds ahead of Kidane, who continued her return from a two-year maternity leave with a podium finish.

“It was a tough race,” Melkamu said of the four-lap contest. “After this year, the world cross will be staged every two years and the competition to make the team will be stronger than before. I thought everyone in the race was hoping to make the team this year because there will be no world cross country next year.”

A. Bekele grabs shock victory in men’s senior race

With defending champion Gebregziabher Gebremariam skipping the trials due to illness and other top runners also unavailable, last year´s World junior champion Ayele Abshiro was expected to make the step up to senior ranks with victory here.

And after a slow start and very few indications about the outcome of the race early on, the 20-year-old looked comfortable at the start of the sixth and final lap where he led five runners in the chase for the finishing line. But he was unceremoniously caught by unknown Asmeraw Bekele, who clocked 37:23 to take a five-second victory over Abshiro, with African junior 5000m champion Abera Kuma coming home in third.

“I was new to this kind of race,” said Bekele. “The Defense club runners in the race tried to unsettle me by changing the pace, but I managed to hold on. I hope to do well in Poland and finish in the top three.”

Delele and Gedefe take junior victories

As is the tradition of these championships, the two junior races again produced cutthroat competition in the battle to make Ethiopia’s team for Bydgoszcz. In the men’s race, it was Berhanu Delele, who overcame the challenge of Yekeber Bayabel and Gebretsadik Abraha to take victory in 24:57.

But there was a shock in the women’s race as little-known Afera Gedefe beat World youth 3000m bronze medallist Genet Yalew and Emebet Anteneh, seventh in the World junior race last year, to take a two second victory.

Elshadai Negash (with assistance by Bizuayehu Wagaw) for the IAAF

Leading results -

12km Senior Men
1. Azmeraw Bekele (Federal Prisons) 37.23
2. Ayele Abshiro (Ethiopian Banks) 37.28
3. Abera Kuma (Ethiopian Banks) 37.29

8km Senior Women
1. Meselech Melkamu (EEPCO) 27.36
2. Mamitu Deska (Oromiya Police) 27.39
3. Werknesh Kidane (Ethiopian Banks) 28.20

8km Junior Men
1. Berhanu Delele (Ethiopian Banks) 24.57
2. Yekeber Bayabel (Amhara region) 24.58
3. Gebretsadik Abraha (Tigray region) 25.00

6km Junior Women
1. Aferaw Gedefe (Tigray region) 21.27
2. Genet Yalew (Defence) 21.30
3. Emebet Anteneh (Defence) 21.36

T&F News named Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele Athlete of The Decade

Track & Field News (T&F), a leading athletics magazine, named Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele its Athlete of The Decade along with Russia's Yelena Isinbaeva taking the honor in the Women's list.

Kenenisa has already amassed two Olympic gold medals, four world 10,000 titles and one Olympic and one world title each over 5000m.

Kenenisa holds four world records currently, indoor and outdoor 5000m, outdoor 10,000m and indoor 2-mile. He is also the most successful athelete in the history of cross country, having won 14 individual titles including five back-to-back short and long-course doubles.

Kenenisa becomes the first African to be named T&F's Athlete of the Decade which includes athletes like Car Lewis and Michael Johnson.

Read Complete profile from the March edition of T&F magazine which is now on sale at newsstands.

Ethiopia, Nigeria draw in same Africa Nations Cup group

The Waliyas, Ethiopia National football Team, were drawn in the same group as football powerhouse Nigeria for 2012 African Cup of Nations on Saturday. Guinea, another strong contender, and Madagascar complete Group 2.

Nigeria which is ranked the 15th best football team in the world by FIFA will certainly be a very tough opponent for Ethiopia which has not qualified for Africa Cup of Nations since 1982. FIFA ranks Ethiopia as 121 in the world and Guinea ranks 90.

The Confederation of African Football released the draw in the southern DR Congo mining city of Lubumbashi, where the annual African Super Cup match will be staged on Sunday between local club TP Mazembe and Stade Malien of Mali.


Group 1: Mali, Cape Verde Islands, Zimbabwe, Liberia

Group 2: Nigeria, Guinea, Ethiopia, Madagascar

Group 3: Zambia, Mozambique, Libya, Comoros Islands

Group 4: Algeria, Morocco, Tanzania, Central African Republic

Group 5: Cameroon, Senegal, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritius

Group 6: Burkina Faso, Gambia, Namibia, Mauritania

Group 7: Egypt (holders), South Africa, Sierra Leone, Niger

Group 8: Ivory Coast, Benin, Rwanda, Burundi

Group 9: Ghana, Congo, Sudan, Swaziland

Group 10: Angola, Uganda, Kenya, Guinea Bissau

Group 11: Tunisia, Malawi, Chad, Botswana

Note: Group winners plus best three runners-up qualify for finals with co-hosts Gabon and Equatorial Guinea

More from AFP

Ethiopian National Football Record

4 times Champion (1987, 2001, 2004, 2005)
1 time third place finish (2000)
1 time fourth place finish (1995)
World Cup record
Never Qualified

African Nations Cup record

1957 - Second place
1959 - Third place
1962 - Champions
1963 - Fourth place
1965 - Round 1
1968 - Fourth place
1970 - Round 1
1976 - Round 1
1982 - Round 1

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ethiopian Athletes Still A Threat

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- For a country that produced more than its fair share of gifted cross country runners in the past, Kenya has had no answer to Ethiopia’s dominance of the men senior 12km individual title since the advent of six-time champion, Kenenisa Bekele.

Even on the two occasions Kenenisa faltered, at the Mombasa 2007 and Amman 2009 editions, the nation where the first two five-time winners, John Ngugi and Paul Tergat hailed from could still not find the legs to win a title that has eluded them since 1999 when the latter won his fifth 12km long race gold.

The task to restore Kenya’s glory in the recent past has fallen to Leonard Patrick Komon, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Feb. 10.

Komon who entered the World Cross scene in 2006 when he won junior 6km silver, has established himself as the most consistent Kenyan exponent at the event.

He finished fourth the following year at Mombasa but it was at the Edinburgh 2008 edition where the world sat and took notice of his talent.

A smarting Kenenisa, who had seen his bid of becoming the first winner of six World Cross titles in successive years collapse in the heat of Mombasa, was out to atone for dropping out of the race at the very last lap allowing Eritrean Zersenay Tadese to claim glory.

The Kenyan contingent for that event had been sent out to ensure Tergat and Ngugi’s achievements were not surpassed and only Komon heeded the call as his teammates faded.

In an effort that earned him the nickname ‘the fighter’ Komon then, 20, took the fight to the Ethiopian phenomenon and in a frantic finish, fell only three second short of causing what would have amounted to one of the greatest upsets in the history of World Cross.

Injured before last year’s Amman World Cross, Komon could only finish 17th at Kenya’s selection event but in a demonstration of his status as his nation’s best bet at the event, Athletics Kenya (AK) decided to hand him wildcard entry.

However, Komon was not at his best even a day before the race but once on the cold, hard desert course of Amman, he still emerged Kenya’s best placed finisher in fourth and remarkably, missed the bronze medal by one second as yet another Ethiopian, Gebregziabher Gebremariam scored victory. Kenenisa was ruled out from the event through injury.

As Kenya prepares to stage their selection event for the March 28 Bydgoszcz World Cross, once again focus has shifted to Komon and whether he can finally win the title his consistent displays deserve.

"It could happen for me this year but first, I have to face my compatriots on Saturday to earn a ticket in the team.

"I’m not worried about my shape and I have no injuries to report," Komon said on Wednesday.

"I cannot explain why my teammates failed to win the senior title in Amman but on my part, I was only in the race to try my best since my (knee) injury that I had suffered earlier in the season was bothering me.

It’s time the 12km men individual title came home and we can learn from last year’s women team that won gold and silver for the first time ever and 15 years after the first individual title was won," the athlete added.

He was referring to Florence Kiplagat and Linet Masai 1-2 in the women’s senior 8km race that saw Kenya wrest the individual and team titles from Ethiopia.

Besides Kiplagat, who will miss this year’s campaign through injury sustained at the Berlin World Championships, Helen Chepngeno (1994) is the only other Kenyan female athlete to win the senior women’s World Cross individual title.

"If I make the team, I will not be afraid to lead it to the individual title but more than ever before, we need to work as a team.

"We always plan ahead on what to do but when we get to the course, I do not know why we fail to stick to the plan and coaches should work out how to avoid that this year," Komon stated.

Komon has warmed up for the selection event and global championships by enjoying an impressive campaign on the European IAAF Permit cross-country meetings in Spain.

His season began with a third finish in Llodio on Nov.22 before he improved to runner-up in Alcobendas on Decmber 6 last year.

On Jan. 17, he turned tables on Gebremariam in Santiponce for his first victory of the season that was followed up by another win Elgoibar (Jan. 27).

Komon returned home for training in Iten at a camp operated by his management company, Golazo Sports.

While Kenyan selection event for global athletics championships have been known to bury big names, the country can ill afford to present a squad in Poland minus the runner born in the conflict torn Mount Elgon region of Rift Valley Province.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Robel Teklemarim places 93rd in cross country ski event

Ethiopia’s lone Olympian, cross country skier Robel Teklemariam, finished 93rd out of 95 skiers yesterday, completing the 15 kilometer course in 45 minutes, 18 seconds. He improved on his time from the Turin Olympics by two minutes against a tougher field.

Teklemariam’s family was on hand for the competition. His mother, Yeshareg Demisse, runs The Nile restaurant near the VCU campus, which serves Ethiopian food.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Robel Teklemariam receives a hero's welcome in Vancouver

Ethiopian Winter Olympics athlete Robel Teklemariam arrived at Vancouver Airport (YVR) yesterday, Feb. 10, 2010, where he was warmly received by several Ethiopians adorning the tricolor flag. Upon arrival, Robel took photos with fans and signed autograph.

The Ethiopian community in Vancouver is hosting a special event honoring Robel at the Collingwood Neighborhood House (5288 Joyce Street) on February 27 starting at 3:30 PM.

( — Robel Teklemariam is the Ethiopian skiing team, its National Skiing Federation and its only hope.

In Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, unfazed by temperatures in the mid-twenties, the 35-year-old regularly pulls on shorts, sunglasses and special ‘roller-skis’ before setting off down a road free of the usual hazards of cars and donkeys.

‘I found this street that had just the right elevation and not too much traffic,’ said the cross-country racer.

‘Roller skiing this close to the Olympics is not the ideal thing. Obviously it’s much better to be on snow. The one good thing is that, in Ethiopia, we’re at 2,700m, so that helps to give you better endurance,’ he added.

Teklemariam found his unlikely calling after spending time as a child in a snow-bound New York state, and was spurred to compete for glory when he saw Kenyans skiing in the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

He made it to the Turin Olympics four years ago, meaning Ethiopia was represented at a Winter Olympics for the first time.

Teklemariam came 84th out of about 100 skiers but hopes to improve at the upcoming Vancouver games.

‘If I’m closer to the winner than I was at the last Olympics then I’ll be very happy,’ said the ski instructor.

But he also wants to be a little less lonely as he rolls down the streets.

‘I don’t want to be the first and the last,’ he added.

‘For me, the greatest thing in the world would be that I don’t qualify for the next Olympics because there’s another Ethiopian who’s faster than me.’

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mo Farah set to face Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele

European 3,000 metres indoor champion Mo Farah will race Ethiopia's three-time Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele in Birmingham on 20 February.

He set the British record last year in a time of seven minutes 34.47 seconds.

Farah, 26, will be aiming for a similar display in next Saturday's Aviva Grand Prix at the National Indoor Arena.

"Bekele is always mentioned as the man to beat, and it's great to pit myself against him with the hope being I can give him a good challenge," he said.

Farah has not competed since coming third in the Great Edinburgh International Cross Country in January - he was in some distress when he crossed the finish line, paying the price for a fast start.

At the end of last year he collapsed with exhaustion following a duel with eventual winner Alemayehu Bezabeh in the men's European Cross Country Championships in Ireland.

Farah was last month instructed to take dietary supplements after tests revealed lower than normal levels of iron and magnesium.

The Londoner has been doing high-altitude winter training in Kenya as he prepares for next month's World Indoor Championships in Doha.

"I'm looking forward to competing in Birmingham," added Farah.

"It will be great to get on the track again alongside the best in the world and benchmark myself against them to gauge my potential performance in Doha.

"It's brilliant to get the chance of running in front of a home crowd, there is always such a fantastic atmosphere, and the crowd really spur you on which is really important in long distance.

"I have a bit of a soft spot for the NIA since my performance last year. Breaking the British record was fantastic and I would love to get close to that again, if not beat it."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia wins 5,000m in Boston

Boston, USA – Tirunesh Dibaba has seen a lot of record-setting success at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, with 5000m World record races in 2005 and 2007, but her attempt to add to that resume fell short at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games on Saturday (6) evening as Dibaba ran 14:44.53 in a largely solo performance.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ethiopian cross-country skier laying down tracks

Ethiopia's distance runners are world renowned, but given the East African country's climate and negligible snowfall, its winter sport athletes are scarce, to say the least.

One man is doing everything in his power to change that.

Cross-country skier Robel Teklemariam is Ethiopia's only winter Olympian. He will be competing at the Vancouver Games in the men's 15-kilometre race on Feb. 15, aiming to improve upon his 84th-place finish at the Torino Olympics four years ago.

The 35-year-old has a much bigger objective: to set the stage for other Ethiopians to follow in his tracks.

"After Turin, I met a lot of Ethiopian skiers, but so far, none of them are racers," says Teklemariam. "They just go out and enjoy skiing or snowboarding.

"There are over one million Ethiopians living overseas, all over Scandinavia, all over Canada and the United States. I am pretty sure there will be some young kid who will want to race eventually, and that really is my goal at the end of the day."

Teklemariam left Ethiopia with his parents and five siblings in 1983 when he was just nine years old. At the time, his mother worked for the United Nations and asked for a transfer to UN headquarters in New York in order to give her children the opportunity for a Western education.

Learning to ski
The young Teklemariam spoke no English, but when he enjoyed a summer camp experience in Lake Placid, N.Y., his mother enrolled him in boarding school there. It was there that he learned to ski.

"I went to a race, and one of the guys asked my coach where I was from," Teklemariam recalled. "I had no idea who he was, but he said as a joke, 'You should represent Ethiopia one day at the Olympics.' I heard him, but I never took it seriously, but it was always there in my mind."

While at school, he saw a television documentary on legendary Ethiopian marathon runner Abebe Bikila, who won the 26.2-mile event at the 1960 Olympics running in bare feet. Teklemariam, who has always spoken Amharic and retains an Ethiopian passport, said he felt an enormous attachment to his homeland. Inspired, he focused on his own Olympic dream.

Teklemariam progressed rapidly in his sport and was awarded an athletic scholarship to the University of New Hampshire for cross-country skiing. He hoped to compete in the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, but the opportunity for an education superseded his athletic aspirations, so he put his Olympic dream on hold temporarily. After graduation, he soon realized there were other forces at play.

In order to be able to compete in the Olympics, Ethiopia's national Olympic committee had to endorse a ski federation, which at that time didn't exist. When Teklemariam told the Olympic officials of his plan to set one up, they were "dumbfounded at first," he said. Then they got behind his initiative.

With the support of his family, Teklemariam set about fulfilling all the criteria necessary to establish the federation — drawing up bylaws and budgets and seeking sponsorship. Today, the key positions in the organization are held by Teklemariam's family members.

Much of Teklemariam's training and travel expenses are underwritten by Club Med — the global vacation company, which also employs him as a ski instructor.

Doping scare
Preoccupied with his administrative chores for the federation, Teklemariam only qualified for the Torino Games at the 11th hour. But then he hit another obstacle as an anti-doping blood test revealed he had a higher than normal level of hemoglobin — the oxygen-carrying blood protein — and he was ordered to rest for seven days.

Though elevated hemoglobin is not proof of doping, there are always suspicions surrounding such cases. Teklemariam, who claimed the elevated hemoglobin levels were likely the result of living at a high altitude, was allowed to compete eventually.

"The capital of Ethiopia is at an altitude of 3,000 metres [above sea level]," Teklemariam explains. "All my ancestors come from there. Where I train in Aspen, Colo., I trained at an altitude of around 3,000 metres. All my training was done at altitude. The race in Turin was at 1,600 metres altitude. I had no clue about this hemoglobin. I didn't care. I know I am not doing anything wrong.

"The World Anti Doping Agency [WADA] did tests, and it was all negative. I talked to the International Ski Federation [FIS]. I said, 'Listen, I am Ethiopian. I come from high altitude.' The problem is the standard is set on European levels not on Africans' [levels]."

These days, Teklemariam splits his time between various European venues; Aspen, where he is a licensed alpine ski instructor; and his home in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Because of the lack of snow in his home country, he cycles and runs in the mountains outside the capital. Roller skiing is impossible because of the heavy traffic and hilly terrain. He also spends time in a local gymnasium, where he has run into some of the country's best distance runners, including three-time Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele.

'I don't want it to end with me'
Preparations for the 2010 Olympics have not gone as smoothly as Teklemariam would have liked.

When a number of ski competitions this season were cancelled because of a lack of snow, he found himself traveling back and forth across Europe searching for official FIS races in order to qualify for Vancouver. That forced him to cancel a series of planned competitions in Japan.

From now until he leaves for Vancouver, he is based in Marbach, Switzerland.

Teklemariam travels, for the most part, on his own, dragging his equipment bag from train to car to train. On Jan. 8, for example, he took a 15-hour train ride to Oberwiesenthal, Germany, and raced the next day. Then it was on to Innsbruck, Austria, about 600 kilometres away.

"I am really exhausted, but my fitness is OK," he said. "Really, my goal for Vancouver is to improve my time behind the winner and have a better race than in Turin. As far as results, I really want Ethiopia to be a mainstay in winter sports. I don't want be the first and last Ethiopian at the Winter Olympics. I don't want it to end with me."

Though he retains a great deal of optimism, most of his countrymen — those who are aware of him, that is — remain bemused by his pursuit. Nonetheless, he hopes they will watch him on television later this month.

Teklemariam said he was encouraged by a recent encounter with one of Ethiopia's greatest distance runners, Haile Gebrselassie, a two-time Olympic champion in the 10,000 metre and the current world marathon record holder.

"I was flying to Japan and met him on the airplane," Teklemariam recalls. "I went up to him and said, 'My God, you are a legend. I am pleased to meet you. I have also been to the Olympic Games.' He said, 'For what sport?' I said, 'Skiing,' and he said, 'I remember you going to Italy with the skiing. Some day, bring us back the gold'."

Monday, February 1, 2010

Ethiopia's Amane Gobena wins Osaka marathon

OSAKA, JAPAN (AFP) — Ethiopia’s Amane Gobena pulled away from nearest challenger Marisa Barros of Portugal in the last four kilometres to win the Osaka international women’s marathon yesterday.

The 27-year-old Gobena picked up the pace after the 38km mark to leave Barros behind, crossing the finishing line in 2’25:14.

“It was a very difficult and tough course. At the same time, it was very, very competitive. I’m very, very glad to win the race,” said Gobena, who bettered her personal best time of 2’26:53. It was her second career victory out of four starts.

The race was led by nine women including Sydney Olympic silver medallist and three-time Osaka champion Lidia Simon.

But Simon slowed down after 22km and last year’s runner-up, Yukiko Akaba of Japan, also failed to keep the pace after 28km, leaving Gobena, Barros and Japan’s Mari Ozaki out in front.

Barros came in second in 2’25:44, followed by Ozaki in 2’26:27, while Simon was fourth in 2’27:11.