Ethiopia’s rising star, Freweyni Hailu, left an indelible mark on the track at the Czech Indoor Gala in Ostrava. The 22-year-old, already a world indoor 800m silver medallist, stepped into uncharted territory by competing in her first short track mile and emerged victorious, clocking a blistering time of 4:17.36, making it the sixth-fastest in history.
The race was not without its challenges, as an early fall by Portugal’s Salome Afonso forced Hailu to display incredible agility, leaping over her fallen competitor. Undeterred, Hailu swiftly moved to the front of the pack, joining a breakaway group of four runners behind the pacemakers. With four laps to go, Hailu seized her moment, leaving spectators in awe with a powerful surge to the front.
In a fierce battle for supremacy, Hailu found herself accompanied by compatriot Hirut Meshesha, the world indoor 1500m bronze medallist. The duo left their competitors trailing, crossing the 1500m mark in impressive times of 4:01.03 and 4:01.68, respectively, marking the top two times globally this year. Hailu’s relentless pace continued, and she sprinted away from Meshesha in the final stretch, clinching victory in 4:17.36.
Reflecting on her performance, Hailu expressed her joy, stating, “I’m very happy with my performance today. I won a medal at the last World Indoor Championships. This time I plan to run the 1500m, and I am ready for it.” Her triumph in Ostrava served as a strong statement of intent as she sets her sights on the upcoming World Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow, where she aims to target the 1500m.
The Ostrava meet witnessed not only Hailu’s historic feat but also several other record-breaking performances. Lieke Klaver, the world 4x400m gold medallist, blazed through the 400m, setting a world lead of 50.54, while Poland’s Ewa Swoboda continued her stellar form, winning the 60m in 7.07, just days after her world-leading time of 7.04 in Lodz.
As records fell in various events, the atmosphere was electric, and athletes left an indomitable mark on the Czech Indoor Gala. Isaac Nader of Portugal set a world-leading national record in the men’s 1500m, and national records tumbled in the women’s 60m hurdles, men’s 60m, and men’s 200m.
The story of Hailu’s triumphant run in Ostrava adds another chapter to Ethiopia’s rich tradition of middle-distance running, setting the stage for an exhilarating indoor season and raising expectations for her performance in Glasgow.
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