Selemon Barega after winning the 5000m at the IAAF World U20 Championships Bydgoszcz 2016 (© Getty Images)
In a thrilling battle over the final 150 metres, Selemon Barega outsprinted Djamal Direh of Djibouti to take a well-deserved 5000m victory, the third straight for Ethiopia and ninth overall.
“I prepared very intensely for these championships and I did what I prepared for,” said the unheralded Barega, who arrived in Bydgoszcz well off the radar with a modest 13:49.53 personal best. “If I train well, in the future I may go to the World Championships and Olympics.”
He certainly gave Ethiopian fans and officials some images to file away for future reference after a strong home stretch performance en route to his 13:21.21 run.
Barega played a waiting game during the opening stages, with Eritrea’s Aron Kifle, the silver medallist in the 10,000m here, taking early control for the first five laps, covering 2000m in 5:26.49.
Kenyan Wesley Ladema then took command, upping the tempo enough to whittle the lead group down to seven runners with five laps to go. Two laps later it was down to five: Ladema, Kifle, Barega, Direh and Kenyan Moses Koech.
The field was reduced further with 500 metres remaining when Kifle, trying to make a move to the outside, tripped and tumbled to the track and out of contention.
Ladema still led with just over half a lap to go when Barega made his move. But he wasn’t alone. As he passed the Kenyan, Direh tagged along, and shadowed him to the line, but couldn’t move by. Direh clocked 13:21.50, a national U20 record, with Ladema a couple steps behind in third, clocking a PB of 13:23.34.
Further back, Ethiopian Yeneblo Biyazen was fourth in 13:28.41 with Kifle, who admirably regrouped from his fall, finishing fifth in 13:31.09.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF