Ethiopia's Hagos Gebrhiwet celebrates his victory (© Jean-Pierre Durand)
Twelve days after his lap-counting error in the 5000m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Lausanne, Hagos Gebrhiwet made no mistakes in Hengelo on Wednesday (17), winning the men’s 10,000m in a world-leading 26:48.95.
The races doubled as the official Ethiopian trial races for the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019. And, based on tonight's results, Ethiopia will field two strong trios for the men's and women's 10,000m in Doha.
In a race of staggering quality – the best ever in terms of depth for one nation – the top six men finished inside 27 minutes with the first three finishing inside 26:50.
The women’s 10,000m, won by Letesenbet Gidey, was of a similarly high standard with the first 10 women – nine of whom are from Ethiopia – finishing inside 31:00.
On a still night with temperatures around 19C, the men’s race set off at a steady pace with the first 2000m covered in 5:25 and 3000m reached in 8:07. The large lead pack of about 14 men was strung out but all appeared to be running comfortably.
After passing through half way in 13:31 – just outside 27-minute pace for the full distance – Kenya’s Vincent Kiprotich Kibet moved into the lead, tracked by Ethiopia’s Andamlak Belihu, Guye Adola and Abadi Hadis.
Belihu and Kiprotich were still at the front through 6000m while Yomif Kejelcha was positioned near the back of the lead pack. Hadis then took a turn at the front and, followed by Jemal Yimer Mekonnen, pushed the pace.
Eight men remained in the leading pack with 2000m remaining as Hadis still led while Kejelcha was still ominously biding his time. Selemon Barega and Gebrhiwet moved closer to Hadis with three laps to go, then Belihu hit the front of the pack – now down to six men – with 800 metres remaining.
Kejelcha finally made his move at the bell and started his 400-metre kick for home. Barega and Gebrhiwet went with him and moved past him with half a lap remaining. Barega and Gebrhiwet kicked hard down the final straight but Gebrhiwet proved to be the stronger in the closing stages, winning in 26:48.95.
Barega, competing in just his second 10,000m race, finished second in 26:49.46, moving to second on the world U20 all-time list. Kejelcha was third in 26:49.99, the second-fastest debut 10,000m in history behind Eliud Kipchoge’s 26:49.02.
Belihu (26:53.15), Mekonnen (26:54.39) and Hadis (26:56.46) were next to finish. In ninth place, Julien Wanders broke his own Swiss record with 27:17.29, moving to seventh on the European all-time list.
Like the top finishers in the men’s race, Gidey bided her time in the women’s contest before making a move in the final kilometre.
World half marathon champion Netsanet Gudeta and 2015 world 5000m silver medallist Senbere Teferi did most of the leading, taking the field through 3000m in 9:18 before reaching half way in 15:30.69.
Twelve women were still in the lead pack at that point. It was only with 10 laps to go that Commonwealth champion Stella Chesang of Uganda drifted off the back of the pack, leaving 11 women to contend for top honours.
Gudeta still led with four laps remaining but Gidey was starting to make her way through the field, which was now operating at sub-31-minute pace.
Gidey then struck with 1000 metres remaining, immediately breaking up the pack. Gudeta was the only woman capable of sticking with the two-time world U20 cross-country champion and within the space of a lap they had opened up a gap of about 15 metres on the rest of the field.
Still together at the bell, Gidey’s superior speed enabled her to pull away from her compatriot over the final 300 metres and she went on to win in a lifetime best of 30:37.89. Gudeta followed three seconds later in 30:40.85.
Teferi was third in 30:45.14 with Zeineba Yimer taking fourth place in 30:46.24. World cross-country silver medallist Dera Dida (30:51.86) and Tsehay Gemechu (30:53.11), the 10km world leader on the roads, followed in fifth and sixth respectively.
In eighth place, Girmawit Gebrzihair broke the Ethiopian U20 record with 30:53.53. Tsigie Gebreselama, ninth in 30:57.54, also finished inside the previous Ethiopian U20 record which had stood since 2000.
In other events, the previously unheralded Lemecha Girma made a huge breakthrough to win the men’s 3000m steeplechase in 8:08.18, winning by six seconds and moving to fourth on the Ethiopian all-time list. World U20 champion Diribe Welteji won the women’s 800m in 2:00.51.