Tokyo 2020 | Athletics: Solomon Bariga hosted a festival in Uganda

The Ethiopian wins the 10,000m on a grueling final lap and leaves behind the favorites Chepetegui and Kiplemo.

Igor Barkia

Igor Barcelona Special Envoy to Tokyo

Solomon Barriga is no longer a promise for a long time. This almost unknown 17-year-old boy who won the Golden Fiesta at the Mugerza Monument is now an Olympic 10,000m champion four years later, but between both appointments, Elgoibar’s date and Tokyo’s date, there is a clear connection, the auctioneer’s instinct that he has a Barega and the ability to Challenge any approach of his rivals. Bariga’s victory today (27.43.22) was the triumph of the Ethiopian tradition against the Uganda Challenge, which will go on to explain how in the coming days they managed to escape this final as Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplemo chose a double. But they had to settle for second and third places in the first athletics final in Tokyo.

And it will not be because Uganda has not been successful in the race on a tactical level. He even sacrificed one of his pawns, Stephen Keys, whom they threw from the start on their own, and then, when injured, set the pace for the group that keeps his bosses in protection in the peloton. It was amazing in an Olympic final to see him look back to see exactly where Cheptegei and Ciplino were. Meanwhile, the rest of the African nations were also moving their pieces and changing their tactics. Kenya is more offensive, and Ethiopia is more conservative. This is what succeeded. Because when Kissa left the “Social”, the Ugandans could not come up with a final solution that was too complicated for them. Too tactical, too slow and many candidates for victory at 400 metres. Up to eight athletes seemed in position to win, and there, the player who held the most power and fastest was Parega, who attacked before 200 meters and ruled the final. By the time Cheptegei and Kiplimo reacted, Barega was spreading his arms over the goal. It was a victory for the Ethiopian tradition.

The funny thing is that Bariga comes from an area that is a bit associated with Ethiopian sports and athletics. This 21-year-old talent comes from the Korag district, which has a population of two million, hours south of Addis Ababa where families work in agriculture and trade. “My people do not know anything about sports, they focus everything on work and always succeed,” Parega recalled in an interview, in which he said that his family did not see with good eyes that he wanted to devote himself to athletics. In fact, they did not accept it until they saw that one of their seven sons was talented and allowed him to travel to Addis Ababa, where he started training with the best “Then I learned the stories of Ethiopian athletics, from Bekele…”. Then came his jump to European intersections, where the money moves, and he stormed the Mugerza Monument, where he beat all African favorites by only 17 years. As for the story, it remained his image, full of mud and kneeling, celebrating success. From there, Bariga grew into one of the strongest names in the Ethiopian fund, even becoming an Olympic champion in Tokyo and destroying a supposed Ugandan party. Revenge is already ringing in the face of 5000…

Carlos Mayo was also in the final, placing 13th. Aragonese admitted in the mixed zone that he was “satisfied with his performance”. “I looked good, always in the group and even at times I was relaxed. The problem is when they start changing in the final corners at these rates, but it was a good experience,” Mayo said, after scoring 28.04.71.

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