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Strong Ethiopian Marathon Teams Announced - Suspense Builds As To Who Will Make Women's 10k Team
Even Without Haile Gebrselassie, The Men Think They Will Be A Factor, As Does Women's Team Which Only Has One Senior Participant From Beijing Olympics

LRC Editor's Note: While covering the 2009 IAAF World Cross-Country Championships in Amman, Jordan, LetsRun.com was introduced to Ethiopian journalist Teferi Debebe, who works for the Ethiopian radio and TV agency. Much like a motivated athlete from a third-world country, Debebe, a letsrun.com fan, inquired if he could produce articles for LetsRun.com. Given that we are in the midst of a global economic slowdown and revenue is hard to come by, LRC was at first skeptical. But a few bucks goes a long way in Ethiopia and we figured we could find a way for him to produce some original content on the side that would give the distance aficionados of LetsRun.com an inside look into the world of Ethiopian distance running.

Previously, he wrote reports on Sileshi Sihine and Tirunesh Dibaba.

by Teferi Debebe

Men's Marathon Team

Addis Ababa - 26 July, 2009 - The Ethiopian National Athletics Federation selected six men and six women to the marathon team for IAAF World Championships in Berlin based primarily on their time-performances during the last 10 months. Other criteria included their recent performances as well as their Olympic Games performances.

World marathon record holder and the only man under 2:04, Haile Gebrselassie, is not included on this team for Berlin, the same city where he has twice broken the world record. Rather, Haile has started to prepare for the Berlin Marathon in September. There is no further information regarding what the Ethiopian Federation has discussed with Haile, but he is not on the list for the marathon team.

Leading the way for Ethiopia is the Beijing Olympic bronze medalist and second-place finisher in the 2009 FLORA London Marathon behind Kenyan Sammy Wanjiru, 22-year-old Tsegay Kebede. Kebede is one of the caretakers of Ethiopian gold demand at this World Athletics Championship marathon.

2009 Houston and Boston Marathon Champion Deribe Merga is another strong contender as his road race times in the past months have been near the best in the world. Merga is an unforgettable competitor. In Beijing he lost a marathon medal in the entrance to the Birds Nest track. Merga's performance in Berlin will be highly anticipated as his training has been very strong recently.

Other members of the Ethiopian team are below. They will help answer the critical question in Ethiopia of marathon medals.

Ethiopian Men's Marathon Pool - Berlin 2009

2:05:20 Tsegay Kebede ETH 2 London
2:07:52 Deriba Merga ETH 1 Houston
2:06:30 Yemane Tsegay ETH 4 Paris
2:07:54 Deressa Edae ETH 2 Dubai
2:08:30 Dejene Yirdawe ETH 2 Seoul
2:09:01 Negari Terfa ETH 2 Xiamen

Women's Marathon Team

The women's team is led by Dire Tune, the young master of the one hour run. Tune was the best performer of the Beijing Olympics marathon on the Ethiopian women's team, 15th place. She lost the Boston Marathon this year by only one second to Kenyan Salina Kosgei.

Bezunesh Bekele is also expected to perform well in Berlin after disappointingly missing the Beijing Games. Newly introduced to Ethiopian athletics watchers, Astede Baysa won the Paris Marathon in April and is also on the team. The silver medalist at the World Half Marathon in Rio de Janeiro, Aselefech Mergia, is on the team as is Houston Marathon champion Teyba Erkesso.

The winner of the 2008 Seoul Marathon Robe Gutu is taken as the first reserve. Despite having the 5th best time, Gutu ignored the Federation's request to go to a team hotel and to start training with the team. As a result, she was placed as an alternate on the team. She was disappointed by the Federation's selection process and now she is preparing for her own race, perhaps the Boston or New York City Marathon.

Ethiopian Women's Marathon Pool - Berlin World Championships

2:24:02 Bezunesh Bekele 1 Dubai
2:24:18 Teyba Erkesso 1 Houston
2:24:42 Atsede Baysa 1 Paris
2:25:02 Aselefech Mergia 2 Paris
2:32:17 Dire Tune 2 Boston
2:25:37 Robe Tola 1 Seoul (alternate)

Track Team: Uncertainty Still Remains About Women's 10k

There still is no official notice about Ethiopia's track racers in Berlin dspite the fact that several of the team members are already in the hotel training for Berlin.

The Federation is looking carefully at the selection process to achieve better results. The biggest uncertainty surround the women's 10,000 meter team. No one's spot seems secure except for Tirunesh Dibaba, the defending champion as several Ethiopian women have run under 31 minutes this year.

5,000m experts Meselech Melkamu and Meseret Defar both want to run the 10k in Berlin and both have gone sub-30:00 for the first time in their respective careers this year.

22-year-old Wude Ayalew Yimer has run 30:11.87 this year as well as 14:38. But the federation would like to reward up coming youngsters as well. The national championship winner Aberu Kebede is just 19 and has run 30:48. Both have had very promising training performances which makes the decision harder.

The Ethiopian Federation appears to be stuck on this decision. Now the suspense builds for who will be left off the women's 10k team.

Note: Photo comes from practice on July 21st and includes the Dibabas, Melkamu, Ayalew, Kebede and one other runner.


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