Ethiopian athletes Azmeraw Mengist and Yenesh Tilahun have been added to an already illustrious field for the FNB Cape Town 12 ONERUN.
The two Ethiopians have been added to replace the withdrawal due to injury of the international trio of Linet Masai, John Kemboi Cheruiyot and Yigrem Demelash.
Both are new to the global stage of athletics, but have already set some impressive times.
Mengist, 22, pictured above, first appeared on the scene in 2012 and quickly made the world take notice when he clocked 28min 19.40sec in the 10000m (22 September) and times of 13:37.12 and 13:48.20 in the 5000m (Yokohama 18 Nov/2 December).
In 2013 he lowered his 5000m and 10000m bests to 13:31.81 and 27:59.96 respectively. Yokohama seemed to be a happy hunting ground for him as it was here that he improved on his 5000m best from 2012. Hinting at a move to the roads, Mengist clocked 27:51 in Rennes on 13 October, backing that up with a 29:49 in Luanda on 31 December.
Mengist only ran two races in 2014, both of them 10km (28:52 and 28:25 in Praha and Rennes on 6 September and 12 October respectively). Already in 2015 Mengist has set some fast times over the half marathon.
He opened his season with a personal best of 63:01 on 11 January before bringing his time down to 60:48 in Barcelona (15 February). Showing that was no fluke, he finished seventh in the City Pier City in Den Haag on 8 March with a 60:54.
Tilahun, 20, has only been competing on the international stage for two years, but has already run 49:52 for 15km (Istanbul – 17 November 2013) and 72:08 in the half marathon (Vitry – 13 April 2014). Whilst she may only have five international recorded races, they are all impressive and her inclusion in the race’s line-up will surely give the favourites some nervous moments.
Intriguing is that Tilahun has gone straight onto the roads. Her first race was the 15km at the Vodafone in Istanbul, which she won in 49:52 (a personal best). Her only other race in 2013 was the Kochi Half Marathon in 73:25 (29 December).
In early 2014, Tilahun set a lifetime best of 72:08 in a half marathon, despite finishing second behind Kenya’s Leonida Mosop. Her next race was Le Puy-en-Velax on 1 May where she finished second in 50:08 behind Wakanesh Mekassa of Ethiopia. She closed out the year with a 73:57 half marathon in Lille, France on 6 September.
‘The two young Ethiopians have a no-fear attitude and will almost certainly raise the tempo of the race. Vivian Cheruiyot and South Africa’s best such as Mapaseka Makhanya, the Phalula twins and Nolene Conrad will need to keep a close eye on Tilahun,’ says Michael Meyer of Stillwater Sports.
‘Azmeraw Mengist has an incredible record on the road and we are confident that his inclusion in the race can only help the pace up front. We expect an extremely fast finish,’ Meyer adds.
Picture of Mengist, courtesy of www.rtvnh.nl