Selemon Barega’s world-class 5,000m performance in Brussels

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Screen capture from the race. Barega on the start line.

© Copyright – 2018 – Athletics Illustrated

Only Ethiopians Kenenisa Bekele and Haile Gebrselassie as well as Kenyan Daniel Komen, have run faster than 18-year-old Selemon Barega of Ethiopia in the 5,000-metre event, all-time.

On Friday, Aug. 31, Barega took the Brussels, Belgium Diamond League event in the time of 12:43.02.

Barega passing Kehelcha on the back stretch with 250m to go

Until Friday, no runner had broken the 13-minute benchmark in 2018. In Brussels, eight bettered the barrier including Ethiopians Hagos Gebrhiwet (12:45.82), Yomif Kejelcha (12:46.79), Muktar Edris (12:55.18) and Abadi Hadis, who finished in the time of 12:56.27.

The top American was former Kenyan Paul Chelimo who crossed the line in the time of 12:57.55 he was followed by Kenyan Richard Yator, who finished in the time of 12:59.44.

The top Canadian was St. Catharines, ON native Mohammed Ahmed who finished eighth overall in 13:03:08, less than two seconds from the current Canadian record of 13:01.74, which he set two years prior.

Barega’s performance, which included a furious final 200-metres and a final km split of 2:27.0 is now the U20 world record and is the fastest time since 2005 when Bekele ran 12:40.18 in St. Denis in January of that year.

Barega opened with a 2:32.80 first km. With confidence, he followed Kejelcha to a 7:44.60 3,000-metre split. Kejelcha’s sacrifice put him third in the race and 12th all-time. Barega’s performance was sixth all-time, while Gebrhiwet’s is 10th.

On May 31, 2004, in Hengelo, Bekele set the current world record at 12:37.35. Six years earlier in Helsinki, Gebrselassie had set the record at 12:39.36. He broke Komen’s record that was set the year before in Brussels, which was 12:39.74.

Two of the top-five performances all-time are by Bekele and Gebrselassie with two each and Komen’s 12:39.74.

Fourteen of the top-20 performances all-time are owned by Ethiopian athletes, four by Bekele, three by Gebrselassie, two by Gebrhiwet, while Komen owns three of them.

Barega has set new personal bests in 2018 in the two-mile race at 8:20.01, 3,000-metres at 7:37.53 and the 5,000-metres in Brussels.

In February this year, he ran to a new indoors 3,000-m personal best of 7:36.64 in Lievin, France.

In Lausanne last year, he broke the 13-minute benchmark with a 12:55.58 performance.

Barega is the U20 defending IAAF World Track and Field Championships gold medallist from Bydgoszcz, Poland two years ago, where he finished in the time of 13:21.21.

He is also the U20 African Games champion and has won two other Diamond League meets this year.