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Report20 Mar 2022

Barega upgrades to 3000m gold in Belgrade in one-two for Ethiopia


Selemon Barega beats teammate Lamecha Girma in the world indoor 3000m final in Belgrade (© Getty Images)

The Ethiopian domination of the men’s 3000m continued with an eighth gold and a second successive 1-2 in the event, Selemon Barega emerging victorious from a last-lap sprint with compatriot Lamecha Girma in the final morning session at the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade 22.

Four years ago in Birmingham in 2018, Barega had to settle for silver behind Yomif Kejelcha but that was when he was an 18-year-old junior still learning his craft.

Four years on, with an Olympic 10,000m gold and world 5000m silver back home, the 22-year-old had too much strength and speed when Girma attempted to launch an attack on the back straight of the final lap, crossing the line 0.25 clear in 7:41.38.

As in the Olympic steeplechase final in Tokyo last year, and over the barriers in the 2019 world final in Doha, Girma finished in the silver position again, clocking 7:41.63, with Marc Scott timing his effort to perfection to claim Britain’s first medal in Belgrade – and their first in the event since Rob Denmark’s bronze in Seville in 1991.

It was a slow burner of a contest, Barega moving to the front after the opening lap and leading the field to 800m in 2:04.20. At that point, however, he was content to drift back as Kenyans Daniel Ebenyo and Jacob Krop assumed the lead but without ever threatening to make a decisive break.

At the bell Barega was back in front with six others still in the hunt but none of them could match him – even Girma, who had got the better of him earlier in the season in Lievin and Torun.

“We came to Belgrade aiming to make history for Ethiopia,” said Barega. “I have had a good season, so I was ready both physically and mentally to fight for gold. With Girma we discussed the possibility of helping each other make the podium. Our tactic has paid off.

“It was a tough race in which we were focused mostly on the Kenyan guys,” he added. “I decided to lead the race from the beginning because many runners in this final are 1500m specialists. I just wanted to make the pace fast and comfortable. Then I slowed down to save some energy for the finishing kick. It was a good plan and another great experience for me.”

And so the Ethiopian with the awesome range found himself emulating his celebrated compatriots Haile Gebreslassie and Kenenisa Bekele as an Olympic champion at 10,000m and a world indoor winner at 3000m

Gebrselassie, of course, also struck world indoor gold as a 1500m runner in Maebashi in 1999 – as well as taking the 3000m crown in 1997, 1999 and 2003.

The other Ethiopian 3000m golds came from Bekele in 2006, Tariku Bekele in 2008, and Kejelcha in 2016 and 2018.

Scott took the bronze in 7:42.02, 0.95 ahead of Ebenyo in fourth, with Krop in fifth, Zouhair Talbi of Morocco in sixth and Spain’s Adel Mechaal seventh.

Simon Turnbull for World Athletics


🥇 Selemon Barega 🇪🇹 ETH 7:41.38
🥈 Lamecha Girma 🇪🇹 ETH 7:41.63
🥉 Marc Scott 🇬🇧 GBR 7:42.02 SB
Full results