Ethiopia’s Yomif Kejelcha successfully defended his 3000m title with a powerful display of front running over the final kilometre of a tactical final on the final day of the IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018.
There has never been a podium clean sweep by any one country at the IAAF World Indoor Championships, largely due to the fact that nations have historically been restricted to two athletes per event.
Unsurprisingly, the trio stuck together in the early stages of a slow, tactical race in which the athletes took 74 seconds to negotiate the first 400 metres and 2:29 to complete four laps.
With six-and-a-half laps remaining, the Ethiopians hit the front and by the time the final four laps came round it was defending champion Kejelcha who was in control.
The 20-year-old IAAF World Indoor Tour winner took charge after 2000 metres, which was reached in a comfortable 5:51.71 following a pedestrian 3:08.24 opening kilometre.
Kejelcha unleashed a final kilometre of 2.22.70, and having covered the final lap in 26.82 refused to heed his prime position, and crossed the line in 8:14.41 to secure his country’s third title of the championships.
His winning time is the slowest in the 32-year history of the championships by more than 10 seconds, but that mattered little to the Ethiopian.
“I’m very happy to be the world indoor champion again,” said Kejelcha. “During the race, I saw everyone was very confident but I was the one controlling everybody. When I pushed, I went with my friends and I was able to show off my power. I’m very happy for my country and my people.
“This year, I have been second sometimes but my coach has been working with me to make my race seamless. Before, I had a problem with my speed in the last few laps and I couldn’t control the race, but I’ve been training a lot on that and now I’m very good with my kick at the end.
“Next year, I want to break the 5000m world record.”
His compatriot, 18-year-old Selemon Barega, managed to sneak the silver medal in the closing metres, clocking 8:15.59 to Bethwell Birgen’s 8:15.70.
World U18 and U20 champion Barega captured his first senior international medal in the process, in a season in which he has registered a world-leading 7:36.64.
Kenya’s Birgen, meanwhile, managed to break up a potential Ethiopian medal sweep, improving on his eighth place in the 2014 event. He kept a low profile throughout the race but appeared when it mattered most to take his first major championship medal.
A third Ethiopian, Olympic 5000m bronze medallist and world 5000m silver medallist Hagos Gebrhiwet, just missed out on a medal with 8:15.76 in fourth ahead Spain’s European indoor 3000m champion Adel Mechaal (8:16.13) in fifth.