8th July 2009

Defar Trials Surprise


08 July 2009

ETHIOPIA’S World 5000m champion Meseret Defar will take to the track at the Aviva World Trials & UK Championships in a bid to secure her place on the Ethiopian team lining up for the 10,000m at the World Championships in Berlin.

The 10,000m is the only event at the Aviva World Trials & UK Championships which allows overseas athletes to take part – in fact this will be the first time overseas athletes have competed in the women’s race at the UKA event.

Ethiopia does not hold World Championships trials for the 10,000m, so athletes look to compete in races elsewhere in order to confirm their place on their national team.

And the presence of one of the world’s best long distance athletes at the UKA event will provide a fantastic opportunity for Britain’s 10,000m athletes to take part in a highly competitive race on home soil.

Defar, who won Olympic 5,000m gold in 2004, has chosen to race at the Birmingham Alexander Stadium in what will be her only outing over 10,000m before the World Championships next month.

The 25-year-old has already opted to race over 5,000m at the World Championships in Berlin, and now she is out to secure one of three 10,000m places available on the Ethiopian team. In order to succeed she will have to run faster than 30:11.87 minutes, the third fastest time already clocked during the qualifying period by her compatriot Ayalew Wude.

Defar made her track debut in May over 10,000m and recorded a time of 31:07.34 minutes then – so the Birmingham race will have to be significantly quicker.

The track record of 32:26.85 minutes at the Birmingham Alexander set by Kathrin Wessel in 1994 is set to be smashed, and she will look to challenge the fastest ever 10,000m run in the UK, 30:17.15 minutes, which Paula Radcliffe clocked in Gateshead in 2004.

Ethiopia dominates the women’s long distance events, and competition for places on the national team is tough. Two of Defar’s compatriots will also line up in Birmingham – 2004 Olympic silver medallist Ejegayehu Dibaba, sister of current Olympic 5000m and 10,000m champion Tirunesh, and Aheza Kiros.

Also in the race will be Lineth Chepkurui of Kenya who was third in her national trials last month, and needs to get the IAAF standard of 31:45.00 minutes to make the Kenyan team, and French international Christine Bardelle.

British athletes confirmed include former UK steeplechase record holder Hatti Dean, Claire Hallissey, who was ninth in last month’s European Cup 10,000m, and GB & NI cross country international Gemma Miles.

Defar said: “The race in Birmingham is important for me as I want to show my selectors in Ethiopia that I am capable of running well in the 10,000m in Berlin. There are many good long distance women in Ethiopia, so I must put in a strong performance.

“This will probably be my last race before the World Championships, so this is a very important one for me.”

The Ethiopian, who holds the indoor world record for the 5,000m, has raced at the Birmingham NIA previously, but this will be her first outdoor race in the Midlands.

The Aviva World Trials & UK Championships is part organised by Birmingham City Council and supported by Marketing Birmingham.  

The Championships take place at the Birmingham Alexander Stadium on 10, 11 and 12 July. Tickets can be purchased online at www.uka.org.uk and by phone on 0800 055 60 56.