2021 Ethiopian Olympic Trials: Gudaf Tsegay (14:13) & Getnet Wale (12:53) Among Six World-Leading Times as New Stars Emerge

By LetsRun.com
June 8, 2021

The one-day Ethiopian Olympic track trials were held in Hengelo today, which were highlighted by Letesenbet Gidey‘s 29:01.03 world record for 10,000 meters (full recap and analysis of Gidey’s run here). Multiple sources have told us that the top three finishers with the standard at today’s trials are going to Tokyo in that event for Ethiopia. That means no Ethiopians will be doubling in Tokyo.

As a result, one of the biggest storylines was what events two of Ethiopia’s biggest stars chose to run. Women’s indoor 1500 world record holder Gudaf Tsegay, who won bronze in the 1500 at Worlds in 2019, opted for the 5000, where before today she had a modest pb of 14:46.22. That means it’s going to be much easier for a 1500 runner like Laura Muir or Shelby Houlihan to medal than it might have been with Tsegay in the field. Likewise, the men’s steeplechase medals also appeared to get easier to win as the world leader, Getnet Wale, opted for the 5000, where he had just a 13:13.87 pb.

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Tsegay and Wale both earned impressive world-leading wins in their new disciplines as Tsegay took a crack at the world record before settling for a world-leading 14:13.32 while Wale won the men’s race in a world-leading 12:53.28. Behind Tsegay, the women’s 5k was historically deep as three women broke 14:20 for the first time in history, with all three now among the seven fastest women of all time.

The other big news came in the women’s mid-d events as two unheralded runners announced themselves as medal contenders. In the women’s 1500, 20-year-old Freweyni Hailu came in with a PB just equal to the Olympic standard (4:04.20) but left with a 3:57.33 world lead. The result in the women’s 800 was even more stunning as Werkwuha Getachew didn’t even possess the Olympic standard before tonight as her pb was just 2:00.20, but now she’s the world leader after running 1:56.67.

Women’s 5,000: Three women break 14:20 for the first time in history

The talk before this one was that Gudaf Tsegay might attack the world record of 14:06.62, set last year by Letesenbet Gidey, and Tsegay did indeed take a crack at it. She hit 3k in front in 8:31 (14:11 pace), and had a 15-meter lead with a mile to go, chasing down the blue pacing lights in front of her.

But Tsegay could not hold onto the aggressive pace in 74-degree temps (23.3C), and by 4k she had been caught by rivals Ejgayehu Taye and Senbere Teferi, the 2015 world silver medalist. Rather than submit, however, Tsegay, who was clearly hurting, hung in until the final turn, at which point she took the lead with Taye following into second. With 50 to go, Tsegay broke Taye and sprinted to victory in 14:13.32 to move to #5 on the all-time list — a huge improvement on her 14:46.22 pb coming in but far from a shock given she ran 29:39.42 for 10,000 last month. 

Taye (14:14.09, #6 all-time) and Teferi (14:15.24, #7 all-time) crossed shortly thereafter to make history: this was the first time two women in the same race had broken 14:20. Let alone three.

Lane Bib Name OBP
Heat 1
13 56  Gudaf Tsegay 14:13,32 1 14:46,22
12 43  Ejgayehu Taye 14:14,09 2 14:53,16
15 89  Senbere Teferi 14:15,24 3 14:23,33
14 48  Fantu Worku 14:29,63 4 14:40,47
9 77  Meskerem Mamo 14:36,89 5 15:05,21
6 47  Fantaye Belayneh 14:44,51 6 15,31
11 61  Hawi Feysa 14:45,19 7 14:38,76
1 79  Mizan Alem 14:46,20 8 16:22,20
4 15  Rahel Daniel 14:55,56 9 16:01,10
2 71  Medina Eisa 14:59,53 10
5 132  Prisca Chesang 15:05,39 11 15:46,72
8 46  Etagegne Woldu 15:08,79 12 15:11,42
7 76  Melknat Wedu 15:20,41 13 15:28,40
10 129  Esther Chebet 15:25,15 14 15:04,89
3 6  Habon Ahmed 15:57,06 15 16:05,33

Women’s 800: We have a new Olympic contender

After a 56-second opening 400, the runners in the women’s 800 were either going to royally blow up or run some very, very fast times. The latter scenario is what ended up playing out, as virtual unknown Werkwuha Getachew, who had never broken 2:00 before today, won in a national record of 1:56.67, the fastest women’s 800 time since Caster Semenya left the event in June 2019. The times were quick behind Getachew, with runner-up Habitam Alemu (1:58.16) and third-placer Worknesh Mesele (1:58.71) also dipped under 1:59. Like Getachew, Mesele’s time was a massive personal best — before today, she had never run faster than 2:03.

Getachew’s time will echo across the globe as it took over a second off of Athing Mu’s previous world leader of 1:57.73. It is only one race, but the clock does not lie: Getachew is very much in the medal hunt for Tokyo now.

Lane Bib Name OBP
Heat 1
5 105  Werkwuha Getachew 1:56,67 1 2:00,20
6 57  Habitam Alemu 1:58,16 2 1:56,71
4 107  Worknesh Mesele 1:58,71 3 2:03,20
3 82  Netsanet Desta 1:59,39 4 2:00,90
7 68  Mahlet Mulugeta 2:02,21 5 1:59,84
2 31  Ayal Dagnachew 2:05,83 6 2:03,60
1 84  Qsanet Alem 2:12,48 7 2:03,70
8 1  Souliath Saka DNF

Women’s 1500: Freweyni Hailu introduces herself with a 3:57.33

20-year-old Freweyni Hailu, who was 5th in the world junior 800 in 2018, came into the race with a modest 4:04.20 pb, which she achieved in winning in Ostrava on May 19. She left the race with a world lead of 3:57.33 thanks to a 60-second final lap. 

World junior 800 champ Diribe Welteji was second in a big pb of 3:58.93 (previous pb: 4:09.7). National champ Lemlem Hailu, the 20-year-old who ran 8:29 indoors this year, was third in a pb of 4:00.35 (previous pb of 4:02.97) as Tigist Ketema, the 2016 world junior bronze medalist at 800, lowered her pb from 4:05.09 to 4:00.91 to finish fourth.

Lane Bib Name OBP
Heat 1
4 49  Freweyni Hailu 3:57,33 1 4:04,20
1 42  Diribe Welteji 3:58,93 2
6 65  Lemlem Hailu 4:00,35 3 4:02,97
3 99  Tigist Ketema 4:00,91 4 4:05,09
2 62  Hirut Meshesha 4:02,79 5 4:06,30
5 117  Judith Kiyeng 4:05,29 6 4:03,87
7 25  Alemaz Samuel 4:19,06 7 4:01,78

Women’s steeple: National record holder Mekides Abebe gets it done

Mekides Abebe, who ran a national record of 9:02.52 on May 28 in Doha, lived up to her favored status and got the win in 9:13.63 but she had to dig deep to edge Lomi Muleta, who lowered her pb from 9:31 to 9:14.03 in second. Agrie Belachew, the 2016 world junior bronze medallist, also picked up the Olympic standard in third in 9:27.83.

Lane Bib Name OBP
Heat 1
9 72  Mekides Abebe 9:13,63 1 9:02,52
5 67  Lomi Muleta 9:14,03 2 9:31,03
4 111  Zerfe Wondmagegn 9:16,95 3 9:33,27
3 24  Agrie Belachew 9:27,83 4 9:34,05
8 131  Peruth Chemutai 9:33,74 5 9:13,09
7 37  Birtukan Adamu 9:39,91 6 9:20,37
1 36  Birhan Gebregiorgis 9:42,27 7 10:06,60
2 29  Asimarech Naga 9:49,29 8 9:55,14
6 106  Weynshet Ansa 10:00,76 9 9:30,03
10 124  Lotte Krause DNF

Men’s Races

Men’s 10,000: Barega outsprints Kejelcha for the win

Selemon Barega is another athlete who made a curious choice by lining up for the 10,000 here rather than the 5,000, the event in which he is the fifth-fastest man in history and the reigning World Championship silver medalist. Barega backed up his decision by winning the 10k, outsprinting 2019 World Championship silver medalist Yomif Kejelcha and Berihu Aregawi, the bronze medalist at the 2018 World U20 champs, to win in 26:49.51, missing his pb by .02. Kejelcha clocked 26:49.73 and Aregawi 26:50.37 as those three were clear of the field at the bell and should comprise the Ethiopian Olympic team. Hagos Gebrhiwet, the reigning Olympic bronze medalist at 5k, was fourth in 26:57.15.

MB: Barega 26:49.51 wins Ethiopian trial, Kejelcha 26:49.73, Aregawi 26:50.37.

Lane Bib Name OBP
Heat 1
20 88  Selemon Barega 26:49,51 1 26:49,46
22 110  Yomif Kejelcha 26:49,73 2 26:46,79
11 34  Berihu Aregawi 26:50,37 3 27:48,41
21 59  Hagos Gebrhiwet 26:57,16 4 26:48,95
5 92  Tadese Worku 26:58,30 5 28:24,40
9 115  Daniel Mateiko 27:03,94 6 30:46,40
3 119   27:17,41 7
14 133  Stephen Kissa 27:26,46 8 27:34,48
12 10  Abrar Osman 27:37,16 9 27:41,69
1 52  Getaneh Molla 27:44,61 10
2 28  Antenayeh Dagnachew 27:49,41 11
18 93  Tamirat Tola 27:54,95 12 26:57,33
16 11  Aron Kifle 28:00,55 13 27:09,92
8 13  Filmon Ande 28:04,67 14 28:17,29
10 14  Mogos Shumay 28:21,83 15 27:56,98
15 80  Mogos Tuemay 28:22,83 16 27:23,49
4 33  Bayelign Teshager 28:36,43 17 28:31,03
19 27  Andamlak Belihu DNS 26:53,15
6 39  Chala Regasa DNF 28:32,30
7 94  Taye Girma DNF 28:23,30
13 137  Kirubel Erassa DNF 27:32,89
17 125  Richard Douma DNF

Men’s Steeplechase: Wale and Girma Don’t Run

In 2019, four Ethiopian men broke 8:10 in the steeplechase but none of them started here. That’s a massive break for anyone hoping to medal in Tokyo as 2019 world silver medallist Lamecha Girma (8:01.36 pb) was a DNS and Getnet Wale, who ran a 7:24 3000 indoors, opted for the 5000.

The winner of the men’s race was 18-year-old Bikila Tadese Takele, who lowered his pb from 8:14.88 to 8:09.37. Abrham Sime, the 2018 Youth Olympic champion, was second in a pb of 8:12.11 (8:23.48 previous pb) with Hailemariyam Amare third in 8:21.15.

6 35 Bikila Tadese Takele Ethiopia U20 Men 8:09,37 1 8:14,88
5 19 Abrham Sime Ethiopia Senior Men 8:12,11 2 8:23,48
7 60 Hailemariyam Amare Ethiopia Senior Men 8:21,15 3 8:13,39
1 86 Samuel Frew Ethiopia U18 Mannen 8:23,62 4 8:45,40
2 96 Tegenu Mengistu Ethiopia Senior Men 8:28,33 5 8:42,30
4 7 Mohamed Ismail Djibouti Senior Men 8:28,96 6 8:23,65
3 128 Boniface Abel Sikowo Uganda Senior Men 8:33,74 7 8:25,91
8 64 Lamecha Girma Ethiopia Senior Men DNS 8:01,36

Men’s 5000: Wale wins it in world-leading 12:53

There were a few raised eyebrows when Getnet Wale, the 2019 Diamond League champion and fourth-placer at Worlds in the steeple, opted for the 5,000 at this meet. But Wale has expressed interest in running the 5k, and his 7:24.90 indoor 3k in February — a time just .08 off Daniel Komen’s world record — showed he has serious flat ability too.

Wale showed today he knows what he is doing, winning the 5k in a personal best and world-leading time of 12:53.28. In fact, the top three men all ran big pbs, with Wale (previous pb: 13:13.87), runner-up Nibret Melak (13:07.27 to 12:54.22) and third placer Milkesa Mengesha, the world U20 XC champ (13:25.74 to 12:58.28) all breaking 13:00 for the first time.

The other notable result was that Muktar Edris, the two-time defending world champion, was just fifth in 13:04.69. If Edris is to add to his titles in Tokyo, he will need some help from the Ethiopian federation.

Lane Bib Name OBP
Heat 1
11 54  Getnet Wale 12:53,28 1 13:13,87
16 83  Nibret Melak 12:54,22 2 13:07,27
6 78  Milkesa Mengesha 12:58,28 3 13:25,74
5 21  Addisu Yehune 12:58,99 4 13:45,80
19 81  Muktar Edris 13:04,69 5 12:54,83
12 109  Yasin Haji 13:05,62 6 13:10,67
17 90  Solomon Berihu 13:08,07 7 13:02,08
7 118   13:12,55 8 13:23,99
4 26  Ali Abdulmena 13:20,28 9 13:56,00
10 50  Gemechu Dida 13:20,89 10 13:17,47
8 16  Samuel Habtom 13:23,15 11 13:25,48
1 51  Getachew Masresha 13:38,47 12
9 58  Haftu Teklu 13:40,54 13 13:15,61
3 69  Mebrahtu Werkineh 13:41,92 14
2 3  Abdi Waiss DNF
13 41  Dawit Wolde DNF 13:10,13
14 136  Ouassim Oumaiz DNF 13:13,14
15 130  Farid Wabutwa DNF
18 97   DNF 12:52,98

Men’s 1500: Teddese Lemi upsets world indoor champ Samuel Tefera

World indoor champion Samuel Tefera, fresh off a 3:32 run in Doha on May 28, started as the favorite in this race as one of just two Ethiopians with the 3:35.00 Olympic standard (the other is Selemon Barega). By the end of the race, the entire Ethiopian 1500 scene had been turned on its head, as Tefera could only manage third, with six Ethiopians running under the Tokyo standard, led by race winner Teddese Lemi, who pulled away from Tefera over the final 100m to win in 3:31.90, a 3+ second pb.

The 22-year old Lemi entered the race with PBs of 1:46.00 for 800 and 3:35.09 for 1500.

With the Wavelight pacing lights towing the field along, the race was very fast, with the top six men, all Ethiopian, breaking 3:35. That’s bad news for any men’s athletes on the Olympic bubble. Prior to today, Ethiopia was only in position to send one athlete to Tokyo in the men’s 1500 (assuming Barega opted 10k) as no one outside of Tefera or Barega was ranked highly enough in the world rankings to earn a bid. But with the flurry of Olympic standards, Ethiopia can send a full team of three, meaning fewer rankings spots available for everyone else.

Lane Bib Name OBP
Heat 1
16 95  Teddese Lemi 3:31,90 1 3:35,09
14 85  Samuel Abate 3:32,80 2 3:36,30
17 87  Samuel Tefera 3:33,06 3 3:31,39
15 73  Melese Nberet 3:33,55 4 3:36,49
5 75  Melkeneh Azeze 3:33,74 5 3:43,40
7 104  Wegene Addisu 3:34,21 6 3:43,90
11 120  Anass Essayi 3:34,58 7 3:36,47
12 135  Mohamed Al Garni 3:37,28 8 3:34,61
3 22  Adihana Kasaye 3:39,21 9 3:44,50
9 9  Abderezak Suleman 3:40,53 10 3:39,48
8 55  Girma Diriba 3:41,34 11 3:41,50
6 74  Melkamu Zegeye Webu 3:43,59 12 3:43,40
4 8  Nabil Mahdi 3:44,30 13 3:44,77
13 134  Hamza Driouch 3:46,47 14 3:33,69
10 127  Robin Van Riel 3:49,37 15 3:39,89
2 4  Ahmed Daher 3:52,04 16 3:51,51
18 113  Tamás Kazi DNF

Men’s 800

In the men’s 800, no one came close to the Olympic standard of 1:45.20 as Morocco’s Elhassane Moujahid won in 1:46.28.

Lane Bib Name OBP
Heat 1
4 121  Elhassane Moujahid 1:46,28 1 1:46,50
1 32  Bacha Morka 1:46,39 2 1:47,10
3 98  Temam Tura 1:46,50 3 1:46,17
4 23  Adisu Girma 1:46,51 4 1:46,36
2 44  Ephrem Mekonnen 1:46,61 5 1:54,49
5 114  John Fitzsimons 1:46,63 6 1:46,53
2 40  Daniel Wolde 1:46,85 7 1:53,57
6 45  Ermiyas Girma 1:47,45 8 1:47,60
7 100  Tolesa Bodena 1:48,12 9 1:45,56
6 126  Rick Van Riel 1:48,31 10 1:48,03
8 112  Márton Pápai DNF

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10k WR Recap: LRC Letesenbet Gidey Breaks Sifan Hassan’s 2-Day Old 10,000 World Record, Runs 29:01.03 in Hengelo Gidey ran an incredibly 14:18 second half, with a 4:26 final 1600 to break Hassan’s mark on the very same track that Hassan set her record on Sunday.

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