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Barega bags 5k gold as Ethiopia pips Kenya on medal standings

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Selemon Barega (left) on his way to winning the 5000m at the IAAF World U20 Championships. Leading the turn is Kenya's Ladema. PHOTO/IAAF
Selemon Barega (left) on his way to winning the 5000m at the IAAF World U20 Championships. Leading the turn is Kenya’s Wesley Ladema. PHOTO/IAAF

BYDGOSZCZ, Poland, July 24- Selemon Barega won the men’s 5000m on Saturday night, relegating Kenya’s Wesley Ladema to the bronze as Ethiopia moved to third on the overall medal standings, just a medal above Kenya.

Ethiopia have so far collected seven medals; three gold, one silver and three bronze while Kenya has six; three gold, one silver and two bronze.

Kenya however will have a chance of collecting more and moving above the Ethiopians on the final day of the championships on Sunday.

Winfried Nzisa and Joyline Cherotich will be in the final of the women’s 1500m, Willy Tarbei and Kipyegon Bett in the final of the men’s 800m, while Vincent Kipyegon and Amos Kirui lead the medal hunt in the final of the men’s 3000m steeplechase.

In a thrilling battle on Saturday night in the men’s 5000m, Barega outsprinted Djamal Direh of Djibouti in the final 1500m to take a well-deserved victory, the third straight for Ethiopia and ninth overall.

“I prepared very intensely for these championships and I did what I prepared for,” said the unheralded Barega, who arrived in Bydgoszcz well off the radar with a modest 13:49.53 personal best. “If I train well, in the future I may go to the World Championships and Olympics.”

He certainly gave Ethiopian fans and officials some images to file away for future reference after a strong home stretch performance en route to his 13:21.21 run.

Barega played a waiting game during the opening stages, with Eritrea’s Aron Kifle, the silver medallist in the 10,000m here, taking early control for the first five laps, covering 2000m in 5:26.49.

Kenyan Wesley Ladema then took command, upping the tempo enough to whittle the lead group down to seven runners with five laps to go. Two laps later it was down to five: Ladema, Kifle, Barega, Direh and Kenyan Moses Koech.

The field was reduced further with 500 metres remaining when Kifle, trying to make a move to the outside, tripped and tumbled to the track and out of contention.

Ladema still led with just over half a lap to go when Barega made his move. But he wasn’t alone. As he passed the Kenyan, Direh tagged along, and shadowed him to the line, but couldn’t move by. Direh clocked 13:21.50, a national U20 record, with Ladema a couple steps behind in third, clocking a PB of 13:23.34.

Further back, Ethiopian Yeneblo Biyazen was fourth in 13:28.41 with Kifle, who admirably regrouped from his fall, finishing fifth in 13:31.09.

-Additional material from IAAF-

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