Athletics: Ethiopia's Selemon Barega aiming for second Olympic gold

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.

AFP , Monday 3 Jun 2024,

Selemon Barega
Ethiopian long-distance runner Selemon Barega ties his shoes as he gets ready to start a training session ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games in Addis Ababa, on June 1, 2024. AFP


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 told AFP at a weekend training session in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

"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.

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