Ethiopians reign in 3,000m final as Kenya misses out on medal

Selemon Barega and Lamecha Girma of Ethiopia

Gold medallist Ethiopia's Selemon Barega (left) and silver medallist Ethiopia's Lamecha Girma cross the line at the end of the men's 3000 metres final on the third day of The World Athletics Indoor Championships 2022 at the Stark Arena, in Belgrade, on March 20, 2022.

Photo credit: Andrej Isakovic | AFP

What you need to know:

  • Barega clocked 7 minutes, 41.38 seconds to claim the title as Girma finished a close second in 7:41.63
  • Scott registered a Season Best of 7:42.02 in finishing third ahead of Simiu who clocked 7:42.97
  • The other Kenyan Jacob Krop settled fifth in 7:43.26

In Belgrade

It’s back to the drawing board for Daniel Simiu and Jacob Krop as their assault on Ethiopia’s 3,000 metres stranglehold came a cropper with Selemon Barega and Lamecha Girma completing a 1-2 finish for the boys from Addis Ababa and Great Britain’s Marc Scott sneaking in to deny the Kenyans a podium place, taking a shock bronze here on Sunday morning.

It was Kenya’s penultimate race of the World Indoor Athletics Championships on Sunday afternoon and after 17-year-old Noah Kibet’s silver in the 800m on Saturday night, the Kenyan camp here was hoping to get another medal in the men’s 3,000m final.

The result leaves Ethiopia unrivalled at the top of the medals table with seven medals (three gold, two silver and two bronze), USA having panned just one gold medal in their tally of 15 that includes seven silver and as many bronze.

But the Americans could overhaul things in Sunday afternoon’s session that has seven events on the menu, namely the pole vault (men), 60m hurdles (men), long jump (women), 800m (women), 1,500m (men) and the 4x400m relays for men and women.

The men’s 3,000m final was, as expected, a see-saw affair between the Kenyans and Ethiopians with Barega, the Olympic 10,000m champion, hitting the front early, with Simiu in tow and Krop lying fifth.

At 800m, Krop then moved to the front, with the clock reading two minutes, 4.06 seconds, as Barega dropped to third behind Simiu.

Morocco’s Zouhair Talbi then led through from 1,200m (3:08.15), pulling the field to the halfway mark before Simiu again hit the front.

But Barega timed his race perfectly at the Štark Arena, kicking when it mattered most to take gold in 7:41.38 with Girma (7:41.63) coming in second and Scott closing out the Kenyan challenge to steal the bronze medal in 7:42.02.

Simiu (7:42.97) and Krop (7:43.26) finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

Barega said they came to Belgrade to defend Ethiopia’s pedigree in distance running and that they worked as a team with his good indoor season this year further helping the cause.

“We came to Belgrade aiming to make next history for Ethiopian long distance running,” the man who struck his first global gold at the 2017 World Under-18 Championships at Kasarani said.

“I have a nice winter season with many fast races, so I was ready both physically and mentally to fight for gold at world indoors.

“With Girma (silver medalist) we discussed the possibility to do the team work to help each other to make the podium. Our tactic has paid off.

“It was a tough race in which we were focused mostly on the Kenyan guys. I decided to lead the race from the beginning because too many runners in our final are the 1500m specialists.

“I just wanted to make the pace fast and comfortable. Then I have to slow down to keep more power for the finish kick. It was a very good plan and another great experience for me.”

Girma was equally ecstatic.

“Honestly, I was in shape even to win this race, but I'm happy that Barega could do it and Ethiopia took gold and silver. It was tough race but we prepared a very special tactic plan for it and have been following our strategy until the finish line. On the last lap Selemon was fresher and faster, but I did my best to finish second,” he said.

Simiu said he will live to fight another day.

“I must thank God for finishing fourth… I’ve never finished fourth at a championship, and next time I promise to be at the top,” he said adding that he will regroup for the 5,000m to challenge Barega outdoors at the World Championships in Eugene, USA, in July.

“I will now go back to the drawing board and focus on the World Championships or Commonwealth Games…

I’m still thirsty for that gold medal and I know that one day God will answer my prayers.“This is not the first time I’m competing against Barega… He’s a good guy and we always compete together and I know one day I will beat him.”

Krop said he was suffering the effects of his fall in the heats that left him with a bruised knee but vowed to return outdoors.

“The race was good but I felt some pain in my knee as a result of my fall in qualifying,” the 20-year-old Krop said.

“I’m still nursing the knee slowly and I hope I will be ready in time for the World Championships where I will focus on the 5,000m.” sixth at the last World Championships in 2019 in Doha.

Shortly after the men’s 3,000m final, the Štark Arena witnessed a world indoor record in the women’s triple jump where Venezuelan sensation and defending champion Yulimar Rojas leapt to 15.74 to take the gold medal.

At last year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, Rojas also won gold with a world outdoor record jump of 15.67 metres. She becomes the first woman to win the world indoor triple jump record three times.

Ukraine’s Maryana Bekh-Romanchuk (14.74m) took silver with bronze going to Jamaica’s Kimberly Williams with 14.59m.

South Korea’s Sanghyeok Woo stunned Olympic champion, Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi, to take gold with a height of 2.34m.

Switzerland’s Loic Gasch (2.31m) took silver with Tamberi sharing the bronze with New Zealand’s Hamish Kerr also on 2.31m.

Leading results from the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade on Sunday:

Men’s 3,000m:

1.    Selemon Barega (Ethiopia) 7:41.38
2.    Lamecha Girma (Ethiopia) 7:41.63
3.    Marc Scott (Great Britain) 7:42.02
4.    Daniel Simiu (Kenya) 7:42.97
5.    Jacob Krop (Kenya) 7:43.26
6.    Zouhair Talbi (Morocco) 7:43.45

Women’s triple jump:
1.    Yulimar Rojas (Venezuela) 15.74m (world indoor record)
2.    Maryana Bekh-Romanchuk (Ukraine) 14.74m
3.    Kimberly Williams (Jamaica) 14.59.

Men’s high jump:
1.    Sanghyeok Woo (South Korea) 2.34m
2.    Loic Gasch (Switzerland) 2.31m
3.    Gianmarco Tamberi (Italy) 2.31m
4.    Hamish Kerr (New Zealand) 2.31m.