Ethiopia’s Dibaba and Defar to double next week to Kenyans advantage

By Jonathan Komen and IAAF

Head Coach Sammy Rono is confidenent the Kenya team will weather the storm during the 14th IAAF World Athletics Championships that start in Moscow, Russia next week.

Rono, who guided the triumphant world cross-country team last March, said this on the periphery of Kenya’s biggest rival Ethiopia announcing their star studded team for the worlds.

Ethiopia’s decision to have triple Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba and London Games 5,000m winner Meseret Dibaba to double up in Moscow may end up working to the advantage of Kenyans.

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“It is not good for them to double. It will put them in trouble. They will not replay Vivian Cheruiyot’s feat in Daegu,” Rono said yesterday.

Dibaba struck a double at the 2005 Worlds in Helsinki, Finland and crowned the World Female Athlete of the Year. But she lost 5,000m title to Defar at the London Games.

And even as she tops the season 10,000m leader board in 30:08.06, Defar was unsuccessful in her bid to double up in Berlin 2009 where she finished fifth.

The Ethiopians will square it out with double Africa champion Gladys Cherono, reining world cross-country champion Emily Chebet and Japan-based Sally Kaptich Kipyego.

Rono added: “They have Aman Wote double 800m and 1,500m. That may not work.”

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But deep down when Rono is sitting all alone by the fire with a glass of mursik (sour milk), he must wonder if he has enough grips to stop the Ethiopian cruise in women’s 3,000m steeplechase.

“They have a strong team of Sofia Assefa, Hiwot Ayalew, and Etenesh Diro. We need to do our best,” said Rono.

Rono, however, ruled out the possibility of Ethiopia’s marathon squad led by Olympic champion Tiki Gelana beating Kenyans.

“Edna Kiplagat (defending champion) and Lucy Kabuu are strong this time. They can retain the title,” said Rono.

Ethiopian Team

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Men — Mohammed Aman, Aman Wote (800m), Abiyot Abinet, Mekonnen Gebremedhin, Aman Wote (1,500m), Roba Gari, Habtamu Jaleta (3,000m steeplechase), Yenew Alamirew, Muktar Edris, Hagos Gebrhiwet (5,000m), Dejen Gebremeskel, Ibrahim Jeilan, Abera Kuma, Imane Merga (10,000m), Tsegaye Kebede, Lelisa Desisa, Feyisa Lelisa, Tadese Tola, Tilahun Regasa (marathon)

Women — Fantu Magiso (800m), Gelete Burka, Genzebe Dibaba, Senbira Teferi (1,500m), Sofia Assefa, Hiwot Ayalew, Etenesh Diro (3,000m Steeplechase), Almaz Ayana, Meseret Defar, Tirunesh Dibaba (5,000m), Defar, Dibaba, Belaynesh Oljira (10,000m), Tiki Gelana, Meseret Hailu, Meselech Melkamu, Merima Mohamed, Feysa Tadese (marathon).

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