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Report01 Oct 2023

Gebrhiwet takes long-awaited senior global title with 5km triumph in Riga


Hagos Gebrhiwet wins the 5km at the World Athletics Road Running Championships Riga 23 (Β© Adam Nurkiewicz)

Ten years after winning the world U20 cross-country title, Ethiopia’s Hagos Gebrhiwet earned his long-awaited first senior global title by winning the men’s 5km at the World Athletics Road Running Championships Riga 23.

The 29-year-old crossed the line in 12:59 to lead an Ethiopian 1-2 finish from Yomif Kejelcha (13:02). Kenya’s Nicholas Kipkorir earned his first global medal, taking bronze in 13:16.

Few were keen to make a move during the initial incline on Stone Bridge in the opening kilometre. South Africa’s Maxime Chaumeton found himself the early leader of the large lead pack with Kejelcha tucked close behind.

The first kilometre was covered in 2:41, and after five minutes of running Kejelcha moved into the lead and started to push the pace, covering the second kilometre in 2:39. Kenya’s Cornelius Kemboi was in second place at this stage with Gebrhiwet and Kipkorir close behind.

As the course headed over Vansu Bridge back towards Riga’s old town, Kejelecha once again tried to ramp up the pace, the two-time world indoor champion bidding to win his first senior outdoor global crown. He reached 3km in 7:58, but had compatriot Gebrhiwet for company.

The Ethiopian duo stayed close together through the fourth kilometre, covered in 2:32, but roughly a minute later Gebrhiwet darted into the lead. Kejelcha tried to go with him, but once the finish line was in sight, there was no catching Gebrhiwet, who unleashed a superb finishing kick to charge through the finish in 12:59.

Kejelcha followed three seconds later, with Kipkorir crossing the line in 13:16. Eritrea’s little-known Dawit Seare passed a fading Kemboi in the closing stages to finish fourth in a national record of 13:21, three seconds ahead of the Kenyan.

Watch Again – 5km and Road Mile

Gebrhiwet’s victory capped a superb season for the 29-year-old. A decade ago, while still an U20 athlete, he took 5000m silver at the World Championships in Moscow, which he followed with 5000m bronze at the 2015 World Championships and 2016 World Championships.

He hadn’t made a major championships podium since then, but he set a 5000m PB of 12:42.18 to win in Monaco earlier this year before going on to finish sixth over that distance in Budapest.

Here in Riga, though, it was once again his time to shine.

"Coming to this race, I was thinking about Budapest," said Gebrhiwet. "I was sick in Budapest and I could not perform well at the World Championships, so I am very proud of what I achieved right now. It is a historic moment for me and for my country to become the first road running world champion. One year ago, maybe I would not even think of running here but now, I am very glad I managed to come and take this victory.

"The biggest difference between Budapest and Riga is the weather," he added. "The conditions in Riga are very similar to ours in Ethiopia. In Budapest it was just too hot and I didn't feel well. It was a bit windy today, but the competition was of a very high level and the start was very fast. The home straight and the finish was very hard for me, but I am the world champion and that is the most important thing."

Jon Mulkeen for World Athletics


πŸ₯‡ Hagos Gebrhiwet πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Ή ETH 12:59 CR
πŸ₯ˆ Yomif Kejelcha πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Ή ETH 13:02
πŸ₯‰ Nicholas Kipkorir πŸ‡°πŸ‡ͺ KEN 13:16 SB
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