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Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw sets fastest women’s 10km time run on African soil

Ethiopian athlete Yalemzerf Yehualaw pictured during a race in 2020. Picture: Sajjad Hussain/AFP

Ethiopian athlete Yalemzerf Yehualaw pictured during a race in 2020. Picture: Sajjad Hussain/AFP

Published Jan 24, 2022

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Johannesburg - Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw ran the fastest time ever on African soil with her victory in the Great Ethiopian Run 10km in a time of 30:14, in Addis Ababa, on Sunday.

The event was held at an altitude of 2 350m above sea level, which due to the low oxygen levels would not be ideal for fast times.

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That fact didn’t seem to bother the 22-year-old Yalemzerf Yehualaw as she broke the previous record for the fastest time run in Africa which was set by Kenyan Sheila Chelangat in Port Gentil, Gabon, in 2019.

Yehualaw had also held the previous race record, the 31:55 she ran in 2019 to take top honours. The world half marathon bronze medallist also withdrew from the Valencia 10km two weeks ago, and would have been aiming for a strong performance.

In a tactical but fast race, Yehualaw waited until 2.5km to go before she made her break - leaving countrywoman Girmawit Gebregziabiher trailing in her wake.

While Gebregziabiher kept responding with surges of her own to try and catch Yehualaw - the contest would be decided emphatically at the 9km. At that point Yehualaw put in a huge surge, which seemed to break the chase from Gebregziabiher.

Yehualaw would go on to win by 12 seconds, with Gebregziabiher taking second in an impressive time of 30:26.

Another Ethiopian, Melknat Wedu was third in 30:41.

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The efforts of Yehualaw at serious altitude suggest she is capable of a much faster time at sea level.

In the men’s race, it was Gemechu Dida who won the contest in a time of 27:22 as he beat Getaneh Molla (27:23) and Boki Diriba (27:24) in a tense sprint finish.

In fact, the first nine runners all went under 28 minutes, with just one Kenyan (Cornelius Kibet Kemboi, sixth in 27:37) among the rest of the Ethiopian contenders.

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