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Sihine and Ethiopian Federation Hoping For Big Success In Berlin
Ethiopians Are Hoping To See Success Spread to 1,500s and Steeple in 2009

LRC Editor's Note: While covering the 2009 IAAF world cross country championships in Amman, Jordan, LetsRun.com was introduced 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 an 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 aficianados of LetsRun.com an inside look into the world of Ethiopian distance running.

Debebe went to the Addis Ababa stadium on Thursday, July 9th where he saw many members of the Ethiopian national team working out including double Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba, world 5k record holder Meseret Defar as well as 5 time Olympic or world silver medalist Sileshi Sihine. His second report on Sihine appears below. Previously, we posted his report on Dibaba.


by Teferi Debebe

Addis Ababa, July 9, 2009 - Sileshi sihine ready to his best in Berlin 10000m may be better than Osaka.

After his spectacular wedding to double Olympic champ Tirunesh Dibaba last year, "Mr. Silver" Sileshi Sihine missed some training time - not because of a long honeymoon but due to an injury. After his 2009 debut in Oslo on July 3rd where he was 4th in 13:06.72, Sihine is back now back in training, focused solely on getting in shape for the world championships, working on trying to improve his speed endurance. “If the federation selects me to the team list I will run,” said Sihine on Thursday. “I am preparing for 10000m. Gradually my speed is getting back to normal. I will have no other races before the (world) championship. I want to spend all the time training. I have time - roughly one month,” added the 5 times silver medallist Sihine about the 2009 IAAF World Championship in Athletics in Berlin, where the men's 10k is scheduled for August 17th.

Speaking last Thursday at the Addis Ababa stadium, Sihine was asked what he thought of his Kenyan rivals. “You know it is difficult to know what will happen in Berlin. The Kenyans are very strong . There are many good athletes there and they will have a strong trials for Berlin. With those that make it through that, it is hard to predict what they will do. Sometimes a young Kenyan (whom we don't know about) will join the race,” said Sihine, who nonetheless remains confident that the gold will come home to Ethiopia.

Ethiopian Staff Hoping To Grab 1,500/Steeplechase Medals As Well
Also on Thursday, the technical officer of the Ethiopian athletics federation, Dube Jilo, said the federation is expecting to have new found success in events like the men's and women's 1,500 and steeplechase. "Surely in the 1500m, in both sexes, there will be change from the previous world championships,” said Jilo before mentioning the successes that Deresse Mekonnen and Geleta Burka have had this year.

The stats certainly back up Jilo's assertion. Mekonnen, the winner of the Dream Mile in Oslo in a new Ethiopian national record of 3:48.96 on July 3rd, almost certainly will do better in Berlin than he did at the 2007 world champs when he went out in the first round of Osaka. The only other 1,500 meter from Ethiopia that year on the men's side, Mekonnen Gebremehdin, went out in the semis.

On the women's side in Osaka in 2007, Ethiopia's lone entry in the 1,500, Mestawat Tadesse, went out in the 1st round. Compare that to this year when Gelete Burka, who sits at #2 on the women's 1,500 list in 2009 at 3:58.79 (behind Ethiopian born Maryam Jamal's 3:56.55), is a big-time medal favorite.

Jilo also stated that the federation has banned both Burka and Mekonnen from competing any more for Berlin as they want them to concentrate on training only.

Medal prospects in the steeple aren't quite as strong as they are in the 1,500 for Ethiopia but it's almost certain that Ethiopia will do better than they did in 2007 Osaka. In Osaka, Ethiopia's Roba Gary and Nahom Mesfin Tariku finished 10th and 12th respectively in the men's steeple final while women Zemzem Ahmed and Mekdes Bekele didn't even make the final. This year, Ethiopian Sofia Assefa, the runnerup in Oslo in 9:19, sits at #5 on the women's world list. (Editor's Note: Since Debebe submitted this article, Roba Gary set a new Ethiopian men's national record of 8:12.03 in Athens on Sunday, July 13th).

As for the 5k and 10ks, Jilo is confident things will stay the same. “At 5 and 10 000 meters, there will be no change at all. It will be as usual, meaning we will continue to win,” said Jilo of the Ethiopians who won the women's 5k (Defar), men's 10k (Bekele) and women's 10k (Dibaba) in Osaka.

Jilo was also optimistic for a "change" in the results in the marathon at the world champs as well from 2007 when Ethiopia's top finisher was only 14th (Gashaw Asfaw). The official list of Ethiopian marathoners will come out next week but it could include 2:05:20 man Tsegaye Kebede as well as 2009 Boston champ Deribe Merga. On the women's side, Atsede Bayisa (2:24:42) and Mergia Aselefech (2:25:02) sit at #7 and #8 respectively on the 2009 world list.

As for what did the head coach Dr Weldemeskel Kostre have say about the coming championship?

Well he politely declined to say much. "“It seems to early to say something. Let me see one (how they look) one more week here.”

Photos from Training Session appear below.


Sileshi Sihine, Abreham Cherkos, Abebe Dinkesa and Abera Kuma


Ethiopian coach Girima Feyo going over splits with
Tirunesh Dibaba.


Tirunesh Dibaba with her younger brother and training partner, Dereje Dibaba.

Tirunesh Dibaba


Meseret Defar



LetsRun.com Note: In the future, we hope to provide you other quick updates from Ethiopia.

            

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