Gebremarian shooed home as Junior Menís Winner
Phil Minshull for the IAAF
24 March 2002 Ė Dublin, Ireland -Nobody is
keeping the statistics for how many IAAF world champions have won their titles with just
one shoe but no one at the Leopardstown racecourse on Sunday could remember any otherís
than Ethiopiaís Gebre-egziable Gebremarian, who followed in the footsteps of his
compatriot Kenenisha Bekele 12 months ago by winning the junior menís gold medal.
ďI lost my shoe at the start of the race,Ē said
Gebremarian, who didnít reveal whether it had been clawed off by another runner or just by
the spongy surface, which had got noticeably more muddy from Saturday after some overnight
ďIt took me a few kilometres to get used to the sensation
of running with just one shoe, but Iíve run barefoot in the past so it wasnít so strange.
It was always my idea to start steadily because I knew the Kenyans would try go very fast
from the gun, but this wasnít part of my plan.Ē
The Ethiopian junior menís champion last month - whose
full name means Servant of God, Servant of Mary - proved to be an accurate prophet in his
first ever race outside of his native country.
Abel Cheruiyot and Thomas Kiplatan - who were eventually
to finish 2nd and 4th - sped into the lead from the gun and after
3km of the 8km race the leading pack only consisted on five men, with Gebremarian lying
back in 10th.
The Kenyan pair, assisted by their compatriot Eliud
Kipchoge, were concentrating on the threat posed by Ugandaís Boniface Kiprop. However, by
6km Gebremarian had got used to having spikes only on one foot and was starting rapidly to
close the gap on the leading group.
With 1,500m to go, Gebremarian had joined the leading
quartet of the three Kenyans and Kiprop, and he was the only man to follow Cheruiyot when
he surged at the bell. Coming into the final 200m, Gebremarian - whose upright style in in
the fashion of many leading Ethiopian runners including the legendary Haile Gebrselassie -
overtook the loping Cheruiyot and sped away for a one second victory.
Gebremarian became the first runner from the southern
province of Tigray to win a title on the global stage since Miruts Yifter hit double gold
at the 1980 Moscow Olympics and crossed the line in 23:18, followed closely by Cheruiyot,
with Kiprop winning Ugandaís first ever individual world cross country medal in third,
stopping the clock at 23:28.
Curiously, Cheruiyot and Kiprop both come from the same
Kalenjin tribe that inhabits the Rift Valley, despite representing different countries,
the pair living only a few miles apart and separated only by a border established in
Kenya, despite being displaced at the top of the
individual medal podium, packed well enough to lift their 14th junior menís
title in 15 years, with Kipchoge in 5th and Nicolas Kemboi in 7th
completing their scoring quartet.
Gebremarian lead Ethiopia to the silver medals, while
Uganda repeated their performance of last year by coming home third.