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Ethiopia Off To Excellent Start At World Athletics Championships - 2003-08-25


Ethiopia is off to an excellent start at the World Athletics Championships in Paris. The Ethiopian squad won five medals during the first two days of action in the French capital.

All of Ethiopia’s medals came in the men’s and women’s 10,000-meter races. The powerful Ethiopian distance runners swept the gold, silver and bronze in the men’s event, and won gold and silver in the women’s race.

In the women's race, Berhane Adere, who won a silver medal two years ago at the world championships in Edmonton, Canada, won the gold this time around. The 30-year-old Berhane comes from a family of farmers in the Shewa district of Ethiopia. Recently married, she has made enough money in the past two years to help support an extended family of cousins, uncles and aunts. Berhane crossed the finish line in Paris with a winning time of 30:04.18. That’s the fastest time by a woman in a 10,000-meter world championship race. Berhane Adere’s teammate, Werknesh Kidane, won the silver medal in a personal best time of just over 30:07.

After her victory, world champion Berhane Adere said she will definitely run the 5,000-meters in Paris. She’s already being billed as the favorite to win that final, which will be staged on Saturday, August 30th.

In the men’s 10,000-meters, Ethiopia’s double world cross country champion, Kenenisa Bekele, confirmed his star status on the track, and in the process, upstaged his friend and mentor, four-time world champion Haile Gebrselassie. With about 300 meters to go, Kenenisa lengthened his stride and turned in a blistering finishing kick to pull away from Haile. His winning time: 26:49.57. That’s another record for a world championship race. Haile Gebreselassie finished more than one second behind to win the silver, and Sileshi Sihine made it an Ethiopian sweep by winning the bronze. Speaking after his victory, 21-year-old Kenenisa Bekele said, “I am Haile’s successor, and it’s a wonderful feeling."

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