On a good Saturday night for Ethiopian middle-distance runners in Lievin, Gudaf Tsegay and Lamecha Girma cruised to victory in their respective disciplines at the World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold meeting.
Gudaf, the world 10,000m champion, came within a whisker of the world indoor 3000m record but crossed the finishing line in the third-fastest indoor clocking in history. Lamecha, meanwhile, produced the second-fastest time in history for 2000m indoors, according to the World Athletics report.
Racing on the track where she set the world indoor 1500m record three years ago, Gudaf reached 2000m in 5:29.38 – inside world record pace – and had a seven-second lead over world steeplechase record-holder Beatrice Chepkoech.
But after having to move into lane two to pass lapped runners, Gudaf’s final kilometer ended up being her slowest of the race crossed the line in 8:17.11 – just half a second shy of the world indoor record (8:16.60).
Her compatriot Hirut Meshesha passed Chepkoech with three laps to go and took second place in 8:29.71 and Chepkoech finished third in a PB of 8:30.87.
“It’s a very fast time, but I know I was capable of breaking the world record,” said Gudaf. “My focus this year is on the Olympic Games, so I’m not sure if I’ll be competing at the World Indoor Championships.”
Like Gudaf, Lemech also returned to a track upon which he’d broken a world indoor record with his sights set on Kenenisa Bekele’s world indoor 2000m best of 4:49.99.
However, he only managed to finish a comfortable winner in 4:51.23, the second-fastest clocking in history. Sweden’s Samuel Pihlstrom was second in 5:00.01. France’s Grethen Charles finished third in 5:00.89.
“The wavelights were setting the pace, and I knew I had to keep up with it, but it was too challenging. With a fast pacemaker, I believe I could break the world record,” Lemecha said.
Freweyni and Selemon wins again
On Saturday night, Freweyni Hailu and Selemon Barega followed up their world-leading wins in Torun four days ago with 1500m and 3000m victories, respectively, in Lievin.
Freweyni ran past World road mile champion Diribe with a lap to go and held on until the line, winning in 3:57.24. Diribe was a close second in 3:57.48 and Birke Haylom took third in 4:00.00.
Selemon Barega, on the other hand, showed his finishing strength on the final laps to sprint to victory in 7:31.38, ahead of his compatriots Biniam Mehary second (7:33.04) and Getnet Wale who finished two seconds after Biniam, in third place.
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