Just two days after Sifan Hassan clocked a world 10,000m record of 29:06.82 in Hengelo, Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey – competing on the same track in the Dutch city – improved the mark by five seconds with 29:01.03 to win the Ethiopian Trials on Tuesday
With few getting racing opportunities abroad, the Ethiopian Olympic Trials offered not only a chance for Ethiopian athletes to make their case for being selected to represent their country, but also run fast times. As the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, lies at about 2400m, domestic races are competitive but much slower than they would be run at sea level.
The competition programme featured all distances from 800m to 10,000m, including the steeplechase. The main event, however, was the last: the women’s 10,000m.
Gidey, who last year set a world 5000m record of 14:06.62, went to the lead in the early stages, passing through 2000m in 5:54 and 3000m in 8:50. She reached the half-way point in about 14:42, which put her slightly behind the world record pace that was being indicated by the blue Wavelight technology, but she looked extremely comfortable and had just Ababel Yeshaneh for company.
Gidey, the world 10,000m silver medallist, cranked out two more 2:55 kilometres, reaching 7000m in 20:32, and then started to wind up the pace. As she began lapping competitors, it soon became apparent that Hassan’s mark would last only a few more minutes.
Yeshaneh dropped back in the second half before eventually withdrawing from the race. Gidey, meanwhile, went through the bell just a couple of seconds inside 28 minutes, indicating she’d need a final lap of about 68 seconds to break Hassan’s mark.
Despite having to navigate around a field of lapped runners, Gidey powered around the final circuit and stopped the clock at 29:01.03.
In a post-race interview, Gidey revealed that she was confident in her plans to break the record, even if it was a bold attempt at a trials event. “I expected to run the world record,” she said, but indicated she had grander plans. “Next I will try again, to run maybe 28:56.”
Whether or not her chance to do so comes before or after her faceoff with Hassan at the Olympics remains to be seen. The 23-year-old becomes the first woman to hold both the 5000m and 10,000m world records since Ingrid Kristiansen did so from 1986-1993.
Yeshaneh later dropped out, but Tsigie Gebreselama came through to take second place in 30:06.01. Tsehay Gemechu was third in 30:19.29. worldathletics