Addis Ababa, Ethiopia- Dubai Marathon champion and world leader Ayele Abshero and recently-minted national women’s record holder Tiki Gelana will lead Ethiopia’s strong Marathon squad for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The selection, which is made based on the finishing times of athletes in 2012, sees many high-profile stars including Olympic bronze medallist Tsegaye Kebede and national record holder Haile Gebrselassie miss the cut. Yemane Tsegaye, winner of the Rotterdam Marathon in April and the second fastest Ethiopian behind Abshero, also misses the cut after competing in two marathons over the selection period, an action that was deemed in violation for the Ethiopian Athletics Federation’s selection procedure.
But a youthful squad is led by Abshero, who surprised many in his home country and in the Marathon world by winning the 2012 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon in 2:04.23 in January on his Marathon debut. The 21-year old, who is a former World junior Cross Country champion and younger brother to 2008 Dublin Marathon winner Tessema Abshero, is confident of his chances in the English capital.
"I am very keen to represent my country in the Olympic Games," he said. "If I do my training well and stay healthy, I am sure I can win something for my country in London."
He will be joined in the men’s squad by Getu Feleke, second place finisher in the Rotterdam Marathon and Dino Sefer, third in Dubai. Markos Genetti, winner of the Los Angeles Marathon in 2011 and third in Dubai, and Tadesse Tola have been named as reserves.
Unlike the men’s squad, the women’s team will have an athlete with previous major event Marathon experience in the shape of Asselefech Mergia. The Dubai Marathon winner was a bronze medallist in the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Germany and a silver medalist in the 2009 World Half Marathon Championships in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.
The team, however, maintains its youthfulness in the shape of Tiki Gelana, another surprise package in the Marathon this season following her victory and national record time in the Fortis Rotterdam Marathon. The 24-year old, a niece of Sydney Olympic Marathon champion Gezhagne Abera, is also the second fastest Marathon runner in the world this year behind Kenyan Mary Keitany and will hope to bring her fresh legs to UK this summer.
Mare Dibaba, third in the Dubai Marathon this year and the national Half Marathon record holder, completes a strong line up. Veteran Bizunesh Bekele and youngster Tirfi Tsegaye have been named as reserves. Like Yemane Tsegaye, Aberu Kebede also misses out after competing twice over the Marathon in the qualifying period.
Elshadai Negash (with the assistance of Bizuayehu Wagaw) for the IAAF
Ethiopian marathon team for London 2012 –
MEN: Ayele Abshero (2:04.23), Dino Sefer (2:04.50), Getu Feleke (2:04.50)
RESERVES: Markos Geneti (2:04.54), Tadese Tola (2:05.10)
WOMEN: Tiki Gelana (2:18.58), Asselefech Mergia (2:19.31), Mare Dibaba (2:19.52)
RESERVES: Bezunesh Bekele (2:20.30), Tirfi Tsegaye (2:21.40)