Tokyo 2020 | Athletics: Solomon Bariga spoils the party for 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 champion at 10,000m four years later, but between the two events, the event in Elgoibar and the event in Tokyo, there is a clear connection. Challenge any approach of his rivals. Today’s Bariga victory (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 opted for 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, who was fired from the start single-handedly and then, when caught, set the pace for the group while keeping his superiors sheltered in the peloton. It was amazing in an Olympic final to see him look back to see exactly where Chepetegui and Ciplino were. Meanwhile, the rest of the African nations moved their pieces and mixed their tactics. Kenya is more offensive, and Ethiopia is more conservative. This is what succeeded. Because when Kissa left ‘Community’, the Ugandans couldn’t come up with a final solution that was too complicated for them. Too tactical, too slow, 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 was fastest was Barriga, who attacked before the 200m and refereed the final. By the time Chepetegui and Kiplemo responded, Barriga was spreading his arms across the finish line. It was the triumph of Ethiopian traditions.

The curious 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 people, located 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 him until they saw that one of his seven sons had talent and allowed him to travel to Addis Ababa, where he began training with the best “Then I learned athletics stories from Ethiopia, 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 at just 17 years old. His image has survived in history, covered in mud and kneeling, in celebration of success. From there, Bariga became one of the strongest names in the Ethiopian fund, even becoming the Olympic champion in Tokyo and destroying what was supposed to be a party in Uganda. Vengeance has already begun in the face of 5000…

Carlos Mayo was also in the final, finishing thirteenth. The Aragonese in the mixed zone recognized their “satisfaction with his performance”. “I saw myself well, always in the group and even at times relaxed. The problem is when they start changing in the last laps at these rates, but it was a good experience,” Mayo said after scoring 28.04.71.

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