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Ethiopia unveil strong squad

Wednesday July 29 2009

Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia celebrates winning in the men's 5,000m athletics final in the National Stadium at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. He is in the Berlin squad. Photo/REUTERS

Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia celebrates winning in the men's 5,000m athletics final in the National Stadium at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. He is in the Berlin squad. Photo/REUTERS  

By CHRIS MUSUMBA and Agencies

Ethiopia have announced their final squad for the World Championships in Athletics with reigning world champions Kenenisa Bekele, Tirunesh Dibaba, Meseret Defar and rising star Meselech Melkamu all expected to double up.

The quartet has been entered in both the 5,000 metres and 10,000m for the Berlin contest next month.

It will be the first time that four Ethiopian athletes are going to compete over the two distances, although Bekele (2003) and Dibaba (2005) have both previous experienced the gruelling challenge of running in two races in one championship.

The athletics officials in Ethiopia did not, however, state who will actually run in each race, prefering to wait until the championships themselves.

The highlights of the selections are the inclusion of reigning world and Olympic 10000m silver medallist Sileshi Sihine and Gebregziabher Gebremariam over the 10,000m despite the two athletes having not competed over the event this year.

African 1,500m champion Gelete Burka leads a credible middle distance squad that also includes world indoor 1,500m champion Derese Mekonnen.

African 3,000m steeplechase champion Zemzem Ahmed hopes to bounce back from injury to compete in Berlin with world youth 2,000m champion Korahubish Itaa and Sofia Assefa joining the fray.

The pick of the marathon selections includes Olympic bronze medallist Tsegaye Kebede and Boston Marathon champion Deriba Merga.

Have selected reserves

Selectors have also caused a stir by including Dire Tune in the women’s team although she is only the 12th quickest this year in the Ethiopian lists.

Ethiopia can have four runners competing in the men’s 10,000m and women’s 5,000m and 10,000m given that they have the defending champion in these races.

They have selected a reserve for each of these disciplines with the exception of the men’s 10,000m where only four athletes have been entered.

World champion Tyson Gay arrived to Stockholm where he is due to run his last race before the world championships at 100 metres on Friday.

My lovely little girl

Also in the field Asafa Powell, Michael Frater from the Jamaicans, from US runners Darvis Patton and Travis Padgett. Derrick Atkins of Bahamas and Kim Collins are rounding the field. Stadium record is 9.86 and was achieved by Asaf Powell at the DN Galan 2006.

“I love Stockholm Stadion. The track and the crowd are fantastic. If I win a diamond for a stadium record I will give it to my little girl Trinity, „ he was quoted as saying.

Ethiopian squad: Men: Derese Mekonnen, Henok Legesse, Mekonnen Gebremedhin (1500m), Yacob Jarso, Roba Gary, Legesse Lemiso (3000m SC), Kenenisa Bekele, Imane Merga, Ali Abdosh, Bekana Daba (5000m), Kenenisa Bekele, Sileshi Sihine, Gebregziabher Gebremariam, Abebe Dinkessa (10,000m), Tsegaye Kebede, Deriba Merga, Yemane Tsegaye, Deressa Chemdessa, Dejene Berhanu, Getachew Terfe (marathon). Women: Gelete Burka, Meskerem Assefa, Kalkidan Gezhagne (1500m), Zemzem Ahmed, Sofia Assefa, Korahubesh Itaa (3000m SC), Tirunesh Dibaba, Meselech Melkamu, Meseret Defar, Sentayehu Ejigu, Genzebe Dibaba (5000m), Meselech Melkamu, Tirunesh Dibaba, Meseret Defar, Wude Ayalew, Aberu Kebede (10,000m). Teyiba Erkesso, Bezunesh Bekele, Atsede Bayissa, Asselefech Mergia, Dire Tune (Marathon).