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Previews15 Mar 2022

Seyaum and Taye look to maintain Ethiopian dominance of 3000m in Belgrade


Dawit Seyaum in action at the World Indoor Championships (© Getty Images)

Ethiopia has enjoyed astonishing dominance in this event over the past two decades, winning eight of the past nine women’s 3000m titles at the World Athletics Indoor Championships. In Belgrade, they look poised to continue that success through the formidable trio of Dawit Seyaum, Ejgayehu Taye and Lemlem Hailu, though they'll have to defeat a trio of strong North American challengers to do so.

Hailu secured her wild card spot by taking 3000m victory on last year’s World Athletics Indoor Tour, while Seyaum and Taye ensured selection by going 1-2 in Lievin last month, clocking 8:23.24 and 8:26.77 respectively.

Seyaum is better known as a 1500m runner, winning world indoor silver as a teenager back in 2016, but after missing last year’s track season she honed a strong endurance base for 2022 with a series of road races through the autumn. She looked back to her best when returning to the track last month, following her Lievin 3000m win with a 1500m victory in Birmingham in 4:04.35.

Taye was fifth in the Olympic 5000m final last year and ran an Ethiopian 3000m record of 8:19.52 weeks later, a performance that makes her a strong gold medal contender here. Hailu has raced just once this year, finishing second to Gudaf Tsegay over 1500m in Torun in 4:02.25.

Their biggest challenge could come from Canada’s Gabriela DeBues-Stafford, who produced two outstanding runs last month, winning over 3000m on Staten Island in a national record of 8:33.92 before setting a North American indoor 5000m record of 14:31.38 in Boston. She has yet to win a global championship medal, finishing fifth in the Olympic 1500m final last year and sixth in the world 1500m final in 2019, but this looks a great opportunity to do so.

The US challenge will be led by Elinor Purrier St Pierre, who defeated Alicia Monson to take the US indoor title last month in 8:41.53. Monson was highly impressive at the Millrose Games back in January, running a PB of 8:31.62 to win, while Purrier’s ability at shorter distances – she’s run sub-two for 800m and sub-four for 1500m – should be put to good use in Belgrade.

Kenya’s hopes will rest on Beatrice Chebet and Edinah Jebitok. Chebet raced four times over cross country at the start of the year with just one outing on the track – a fourth-place finish in Lievin over 3000m in 8:41.92. She was an 8:27.49 performer outdoors last year so will be feared if back to her best, while Jebitok clocked a PB of 8:45.46 last month.

Australia’s Jessica Hull was NCAA indoor champion over this distance in 2019 and she started 2022 in flying form, with a national indoor record of 8:39.79 in College Station, USA, followed by an Oceanian indoor mile record of 4:24.06 in New York.

Others who shouldn’t be far away include British champion Amy-Eloise Markovc, the European indoor 3000m champion, who ran a PB of 8:44.15 in Staten Island last month, and Mexico’s Laura Galvan who has run 8:42.29 this year. Canada’s Julie-Ann Staehli clocked a PB of 8:43.55 last month and is a 4:04.82 1500m performer outdoors.

Spain’s Marta Perez and Germany’s Hannah Klein are better known as 1500m runners but both were impressive when winning their respective national titles at this distance last month and could be dangerous in a slower race.

Others of note include Israel’s Selamawit Teferi, an Olympic finalist over 5000m last year, and Sweden’s Meraf Bahta, who started the year with a national 10km record on the road of 31:22 and who recently won the Swedish indoor 3000m title in 8:55.75.

Cathal Dennehy for World Athletics