A week after distance powerhouse Kenya announced its marathon team for the 2016 Olympics, Ethiopia followed suit on Thursday with the announcement of the three men and three women who will represent the east African nation in Rio.
Kenenisa Bekele, arguably the greatest long distance runner of all-time, was named as an alternate. He holds the 5,000m and 10,000m world records and finished third at the 2016 London Marathon despite less than ideal marathon-specific training ahead of the April race.
Tirfi Tsegaye, the fastest woman in 2016, was left off team and named as an alternate. The 2016 Boston men’s marathon winner, Lemi Berhanu, was named to the team. The women’s winner in Boston, Atsede Baysa, was not.
Only if one of the three men or women named to the team drop out will one of the alternates be able to take their spot on the marathon start line. Nations are limited to three athletes each in the men’s and women’s races.
Men: Tesfaye Abera (2016 Dubai winner), Lemi Berhanu (2016 Boston winner), Feyisa Lelisa (2016 Tokyo winner)
Reserves: Kenenisa Bekele, Adhane Yemane, Lelisa Desisa
Women: Mare Dibaba (2015 world champion), Aberu Kebede (two-time Berlin winner), Aselefech Mergia (three-time Dubai winner)
Reserves: Tigist Tufa, Tirfi Tsegaye
Instead of a trials, where the top-three finishers qualify for the Olympics, Ethiopia’s selection process is very much objective as its weighted on past performances. Kenya has a similar selection process.
Four Canadians, two men and two women, have the Athletics Canada marathon qualifying standard for Rio including Reid Coolsaet, Eric Gillis, Krista DuChene and Lanni Marchant. No women made the Canadian team in 2012 while the men were represented by Coolsaet, Gillis and Dylan Wykes at the London Games.
The women’s marathon begins at 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 14 and the men’s marathon is slated to begin at the same time on Aug. 21, the final day of the Olympic Games.