World silver medalist Selemon Barega and last season 5000m world leader Telahun Haile Bekele top a stacked 3000m field for the World Athletics Indoor Tour final at Meeting Villa de Madrid. Also, European medalists and Diamond League winners, national record holders and four of the bests Spain’s distance runners will line up on Friday February 21 at Gallur Municipal Sports Center.
Selemon Barega, just 20, is the crown jewel of Ethiopia’s track and field. The world leader in 3000m (7:35.71) claimed silver at World Indoor Championship in Birmingham in 2018, and later that year won three Diamond League meetings, included the DL final in Brussels. There he set a world junior record in 5000m clocking 12:43.02, a time which placed him #4 in all-time list. Last season he also succeeded at Prefontaine Classic Diamond League over the two miles before winning his first global medal outdoors – a silver one in 5000m in Doha.
Telahun Haile Bekele, also 20, crossed the finish line at Khalifa Stadium just three seconds after Barega, but missed the bronze medal in his breakthrough season by the shy of one second. Earlier in 2019, the young Ethiopian broke three times the 13-minute barrier in 5000m and set a world lead of 12:52.98 at Roma’s Golden Gala.
Compatriots steeplechasers Chala Beyo y Abrham Sime and Ethiopian-born Birhanu Balew of Bahrain, who won two Diamond League meetings in 2018, are also in the field.
European indoor champion Adel Mechaal leads the ‘Spanish Army’ in Madrid’s 3000m. Though the two-time global finalist isn’t at his best yet this indoor season, his lifetime best of 7:40.14 is still a competitive guarantee. Mohamed Katir started 2020 as the underdog and came out setting the fastest time in Spain so far this year – 7:48.84 in Valencia. Ouassim Oumaiz is seeking to transfer to the track his outstanding performance in cross country, as he won with superiority in Atapuerca last November. And Sergio Jiménez expects a breakthrough season in the Olympic year: he has already clocked 3:41.05 in 1500m and 7:58.67 in 3000m.
World indoor bronze medalist Bethwel Birgen will also line up at Meeting Villa de Madrid alongside fellow Kenyan Benjamin Kigen and Justus Soget. Elzan Bibic of Serbia took silver at 2019 European Cross Country Championship in U23 race, and then set national indoor records in 1500m and 3000m – his time of 7:45.57 is the best in Europe in 2020. Dutch Mike Foppen and Poland’s Adam Czerwinski complete the field.