Can Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega Outrun Uganda’s Cheptegei for Olympic Gold?

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– Barega aims for second Olympic gold.

– Won 10,000m in Tokyo 2021.

– Expects strong Ethiopian, Ugandan competition.

– Cheptegei, Kiplimo as key rivals

Ethiopian distance runner Selemon Barega hopes to make it two in a row at the Paris Olympics but acknowledged he faced strong competition from Ethiopian and Ugandan rivals.

The 24-year-old said he wants to repeat his success at the Tokyo Games held in 2021 when he won the 10,000 metres crown.

“A man makes plans, but the final answer comes from God. I am aiming to win a gold medal and replicate my success from the Tokyo Olympics,” he said

“It is difficult to make predictions now, but I anticipate strong competition from my fellow Ethiopians, and (Ugandan) athletes Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo.”

In Tokyo, he beat Cheptegei, the world 10,000m and 5,000m record holder, and world half marathon champion Kiplimo to cross the line in 27:43.22.

In Budapest last August, Cheptegei became the fourth man in history to win three successive world 10,000m titles when he beat Daniel Ebenyo of Kenya into second, while Barega had to settle for the bronze medal.

“I am well-prepared physically and mentally. I am avoiding other competitions to stay focused on the Olympics,” he added.

“Previously, African athletes excelled in long-distance events, but now European and American athletes are also in good shape.

“I have recently competed with them in the 5,000m race and other events.”

Most recently, the Ethiopian came third in the men’s 3,000m at the world indoor championships in Glasgow in March, behind world outdoor 1500m champion Josh Kerr of Britain and American Yared Nuguse who was second.

“The preparation of our athletes for the Olympics is excellent, both physically and mentally,” said Ethiopia’s Olympic team coach Hussein Shibo.

“We are working on various techniques and tactics in addition to their training,” he added, without disclosing more details.

Selemon Barega Profile
Selemon Barega Shirtaga (born 20 January 2000)] is an Ethiopian long-distance runner. He won the gold medal in the 10,000 metres at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, silver for the 5,000 metres at the 2019 World Championships in Doha and bronze in the 10,000 metres at the 2023 World Championships in Budapest. Barega is a two-time 3,000 metres World Indoor Championship medallist, taking silver in 2018, and a gold in 2022.

He won gold medals at the 2016 World Under-20 Championships (5,000m), and 2017 World U18 Championships (3,000m). Barega represented Ethiopia in the 5,000m at the 2017 World Championships in London, finishing fifth in the final.

Personal bests

  • 1500 metres – 3:32.97 (Doha 2020)
    • 1500 metres indoor – 3:32.97 (Torun 2021)
  • 3000 metres – 7:26.28 (Eugene 2023)
    • 3000 metres indoor – 7:25.82 (Torun 2024)
  • Two miles – 8:08.69 (Stanford, CA 2019) World under-20 best
  • 5000 metres – 12:43.02 (Brussels 2018) World under-20 record
  • 10,000 metres – 26:44.73 (Hengelo 2022)
  • Half Marathon – 57:50 (Valencia 2023)

Circuit wins and titles, National titles

  • Diamond League 5000 metres champion: 2018
    • 2018 – Eugene Prefontaine Classic (two miles), Stockholm Bauhaus-Galan (5000m), Brussels Memorial Van Damme (5000m)
    • 2019 – Oslo Bislett Games (3000m)
    • 2022 – Paris Meeting (5000m)
  • Ethiopian Athletics Championships
    • 10,000 metres: 2019

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