Ethiopian runner targets back-to-back Olympic glory

Ethiopian distance runner Selemon Barega is setting his sights on defending his 10,000-meter Olympic title at the upcoming Paris Games.

The 24-year-old secured gold in Tokyo 2021 and is determined to repeat that feat.

Barega acknowledges the fierce competition he’ll face, particularly from fellow Ethiopians and Ugandan rivals.

“I expect strong competition from my compatriots and athletes like Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo from Uganda,” he told AFP during a training session in Addis Ababa.

In Tokyo, Barega edged out Cheptegei, the world record holder in both the 10,000m and 5,000m, and Kiplimo, the world half marathon champion.

However, at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest last year, Cheptegei secured his third consecutive 10,000m title, leaving Barega with the bronze medal.

Barega emphasizes his physical and mental readiness for Paris.

“I’m avoiding other competitions to stay laser-focused on the Olympics,” he stated.

He acknowledges the growing competition from European and American athletes, noting, “Previously, long-distance events were dominated by Africans. Now, athletes from Europe and the US are strong contenders.”

While Barega recently placed third in the 3,000m at the World Indoor Championships, Ethiopia’s Olympic team coach, Hussein Shibo, assures the team’s preparation is comprehensive.

“We’re working on various techniques and tactics alongside their training,” he said, without revealing specifics.

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