NAIROBI, January 22 – Top Ethiopian female athlete Berhane Adere will grace Friday’s Safaricom Sportsman of The Year Award (SOYA) Gala at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC).
The Ethiopian wonder girl will be the Star Guest at the function, replacing Mozambique middle distance runner, Maria Mutola who can not make it due to personal commitments.
The former world and Olympic 800m champion, who was expected to arrive in the country yesterday called the SOYA chairman, Paul Tergat to apologise for the last minute pullout.
Adere joins a list of star guests who have graced this premier sports event. Others are her compatriot Haile Gebrselassie, Ramaala Henric of South Africa and Nigeria’s Daniel Amokachi.
"I would have really liked to be with you during this occasion to fete your top stars but unfortunately something has cropped up at the last minute," she said in a note to Tergat.
"Yes I received a call from Mutola telling me that she cannot make it for the function due to unavoidable circumstances. I believe she has good reasons for her move and we respect it. Otherwise everything else is up and running and we are looking forward to the function," said Tergat.
Adere’s career spans more than a decade. She was the African Champion in the 1993 10,000m, and competed in the IAAF World Championships in 1995. At the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and the 2000 Athens Olympics she was 18th and 12th in the 10,000m respectively. In 1998 she was the African Champion and third at the IAAF World Cup.
Adere emerged in 2002 from the shadows of her compatriots Gete Wami and Derartu Tulu by running a world indoor record for the 3000m (8:29.15) and winning the IAAF World Championships Half Marathon title after placing third in 2001.
In 2003, she won the IAAF World Indoor 3000m, and set an African 5000m record of 14:29.32 at Oslo, just 1.23 seconds outside the World Record. She ran a wonderful race for the IAAF World Championships 10,000m title in 2003 when her 30:04.18 was the third fastest ever and took 13.31 seconds off Tulu’s African record.
Even though viewed as one of the favorites for the Olympic 10,000m, Ethiopian authorities withdrew her from their team in 2004, citing loss of form.
Her first marathon at Rotterdam in 2001 was a major disappointment, but she made up for it in her second effort. Adere kept the women’s field in check at the Flora London Marathon in 2006, finishing just seconds ahead of Galina Bogomolova to place fourth in 2:21:52.
In Chicago, Adere was able to overcome the fast-starting Constantina Tomescu-Dita to win the race, set a new personal record of 2:20:42, and reclaim the Ethiopian national record. It also made her the ninth all-time fastest woman.
In London in 2007 she went out fast and was in the lead pack which passed halfway under 70 minutes, but Adere ran poorly in the second half and struggled to a 10th place finish. On an even warmer day in Chicago in October she refused to give up and with just 10 metres to go she passed upstart Adriana Pirtea to eke out a three second victory.
Adere began 2008 in great style, earning a $250,000 paycheck for a win at the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon. She was also second at the Zayed International Half-Marathon (1:11:23). Adere competed in two other marathons in 2008 with a seventh place in London.