ADDIS ABABA – Olympic champion Selemon Barega bagged a winning medal in the men’s 3000 meter race in Spanish Capital on Wednesday night.
The World Athletics (WA) described his win over a Spanish duo – and his Ethiopian teammates – as “thrilling” and the “most captivating contest” at the Villa de Madrid – the final World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold meeting of 2022.
The noise inside the Centro Deportivo Municipal Gallur reached a crescendo midway through the penultimate lap of the 15-lap event as Spain’s Mohamed Katir twice tried to overtake the 22-year-old Ethiopian athlete.
However, just as it was over 10,000m in Tokyo, he was too strong for everyone at the end.
After two recent losses over 3000m, the big-kicking Selemon re-asserted his supremacy with a catch-me-if-you can performance filled with courage and class, as per WA’s report.
With Katir and his Spanish compatriot Adel Mechaal – who recently set a European record of 7:30.82 – in the field, there were high hopes of a home victory.
Katir seemed intent on delivering it, taking up pole position behind the pacers as they passed 1000m in 2:31.67, with Selemon then seizing command shortly after they had stepped aside, passing 2000m out front in 5:05.32.
From there he relinquished the lead.
After fending off Katir, he repelled the late charge of his compatriot Lamecha Girma, hitting the line in a meeting record of 7:34.03.
“After two times being second without any elite speed training, this week I was targeting a push from 150 metres out,” Selemon told World Athletics.
“The altitude (657m) is difficult here so I decided maybe it was not the time to run fast. After the Olympics it was just easy training, but I put in a hard month of training and the target now is to become world champion.”
Lemecha’s runner-up finish in 7:34.09 secured him the overall tour victory and a wild card entry for this month’s World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade 22. Mechaal edged Katir for third, 7:35.26 to 7:35.73.
Featured Image caption: Selemon pips Lamecha in the Madrid World Indoor Tour Gold 3000m (Photo RFEA]