Diribe Welteji on her way to winning the mile in Riga (Image © Adam Nurkiewicz / World Athletic)
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Diribe, Hagos Impress as Ethiopia Finishes Second in WA Road Running Championships 

Ethiopia’s Diribe Welteji took the women’s mile title with a world record of 4:20.98 as her compatriot Hagos Gebrhiwet triumphed in the men’s 5km at the World Athletics Road Running Championships Riga 23.

Eleven athletes represented Ethiopia on Sunday’s inaugural Road Running competition where Global titles in the road mile, 5km, and half marathon were up for grabs.

The elite action started with women’s 5km that involved two Ethiopian athletes Medina Eisa and Ejigayehu Taye. Ejgayehu took bronze in 14:40 as Beatrice Chebet crossed the line in 14:35 to lead a Kenyan 1-2 finish from Lilian Rengeruk (13:02). Medina was fourth in 14:41.

Ethiopia’s first gold and Silver medals came from men’s 5km.

Hagos, 29, crossed the line in 12:59 to lead an Ethiopian 1-2 finish from Yomif Kejelcha (13:02). Kenya’s Nicholas Kipkorir took bronze in 13:16.

For Hagos, the victory capped a great finish to the season after setting a 5000m PB of 12:42.18 to win in Monaco before going on to finish sixth over that distance in Budapest.

He said, “Coming to this race, I was thinking about Budapest. I was sick in Budapest and I could not perform well at the World Championships, so I am very proud of what I achieved right now. It is a historic moment for me and for my country to become the first road running world champion.”

Diribe breaks world mile record

Diribe Welteji turned the tables on Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon to win the inaugural women’s world mile title in a world record of 4:20.98.

Kicking away from Kipyegon – the multiple world champion and world record-holder on the track – as they passed the Freedom Monument in the closing stages of the race, world 1500m silver medallist Welteji didn’t look back.

The 21-year-old strode to her first senior title, eventually leading an Ethiopian top two as Freweyni Hailu passed Kipyegon in the closing stages and got the silver – 4:23.06 to 4:24.13.

“It was hard, the weather is not good for me,” said Diribe. “When I saw Faith in front, near the line, at that moment I decided to sprint. I could sense that she was tired, and I had it in my mind: ‘I can beat her.’

“I came here to win, to write history and to motivate the new generations of our athletes.”

Freweyni too was delighted with her performance. “It is a big honor for me to be a part of this competition,” she said. “I am proud to have won a silver medal for Ethiopia.”

In the men’s mile event, Ethiopia’s sole participant Tadesse Lemi finished eleventh in PB 3:59.40 as USA’s Hobbs Kessler took a surprising victory in a world record of 3:56.13. Britain’s Callum Elson took silver (3:56.41), finishing just 0.02 ahead USA’s Sam Prakel, who took bronze.

Kenyans rule half-marathon

Peres Jepchirchir cemented her status as one of the all-time greats by claiming a third world half marathon title at the Latvian capital, showing her finishing skill to take gold in 1:07:25.

Jepchirchir was followed home by compatriot Margaret Kipkemboi in 1:07:26, with Catherine Reline Amanang’ole completing a 1-2-3 for Kenya in 1:07:34.

Ethiopia’s Tsigie Gebreselama was fourth in 1:07:54 as her compatriots Ftaw Zeray (1:08:31) and Yalemget Yaregal (1:11:34) finished 6th and 28, respectively.

Later, Kenyan athletes showed their dominance in the half marathon, claiming a 1-2-3 in the men’s race to add to their podium sweep in the women’s event.

Sabastian Kimaru Sawe led them home, taking gold in 59:10 ahead of Daniel Simiu Ebenyo (59:14) and Samwel Nyamai Mailu (59:19).

Ethiopia’s Jemal Yimer Mekonnen was edged off the podium into fourth (59:22), having made a bold bid to win gold, with his compatriots Nibret Melaku and Tsegaye Kidanu seventh and tenth in 1:00:11, and 1:00:21, respectively.

Kenya finished the inaugural World Athletics Road Running championship topping the medal table standings with 12 medals (5 gold) ahead of Ethiopia (7) and the USA (2).

EM/WA