Dejen Gebremeskel (born 24 November 1989) is an Ethiopian long-distance runner who primarily competes in track events. His personal best of 12:46.81 minutes for the 5000 metres ranks him as the fifth fastest of all time for the distance. He was the 5000 m silver medallist at the 2012 London Olympics and took the bronze medal over that distance at the 2011 World Championships in Athletics.
He won his first track medals as a junior, coming second at the African Junior Athletics Championships, then taking the bronze medal at the 2008 World Junior Championships in Athletics. He was a finalist at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in 2010 and 2012. He is a five-time winner of the Carlsbad 5000.
Dejen Gebremeskel grew up in the rural setting of Ethiopia's Gulo-Makeda woreda and took up running as a child, representing his school. He began competing around the Tigray Region and after establishing himself in local races, he moved to Addis Ababa to train with the national team.
He won his first international medal at the 2007 African Junior Athletics Championships, taking the silver medal over 5000 metres behind Mathew Kisorio. He had also competed abroad for the first time that year, running a personal best of 13:21.05 minutes to take sixth in the 5000 m at the Flanders Cup meeting in Brasschaat. He ran for Ethiopia at the International Chiba Ekiden in 2008 and helped the team to victory, running the fastest time for his leg of the road relay.
Representing the Ethiopian Banks team, he won the junior title at the 2007 Addis Ababa cross country race, beating Hunegnaw Mesfin by a second. He was fourth in the junior category at the 2008 Ethiopian Cross Country Championships and was selected for the 2008 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, where he finished 18th (just outside the Ethiopian team which won the silver medal). Back on the track, he ran at the Adidas Track Classic in May and set a new personal best of 13:08.96 minutes, second only to Ali Abdosh. He was among the fastest entrants at the 2008 World Junior Championships in Athletics and took the 5000 m bronze medal while his compatriot Abreham Cherkos won the gold.
Start of senior career
At the 2009 Ethiopian cross country trials in February, he came in third place. His main focus for the year was on track races and he had a successful transition into the senior ranks, winning at the Adidas Track Classic in May then improved his 5000 m best to 13:03.13 min by taking third at the Reebok Grand Prix in New York City, where he was beaten only by Olympic medalists Micah Kogo and Bernard Lagat. He ran a 3000 metres best of 7:58.69 m at the Prefontaine Classic and came fourth at that year's London Grand Prix.
Dejen competed indoors for the first time the following year and was second at the Boston Indoor Games behind Lagat. He was also the runner-up at the Birmingham Indoor Grand Prix two weeks later and was selected to represent Ethiopia over 3000 m at the 2010 IAAF World Indoor Championships. He ran the second fastest qualifying time (a personal best of 7:44.26 min), but did not perform as well in the event final, coming tenth. Outdoors, he was second at the Carlsbad 5000, the Prefontaine Classic, and the DN Galan (at which he ran a personal best of 12:53.56 min for the 5000 m).
World and Olympic medals
He continued to focus on the track in 2011 and at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix he defeated Mo Farah in unusual circumstances – Dejen lost a shoe on the first lap of the race, but he persisted and won in a time of 7:35.37 minutes, one of the fastest 3000 m runs that year. He debuted over the 10K road distance later that month and was runner-up to Sammy Kitwara at the World's Best 10K with a time of 27:45 min. He won the Carlsbad 5K race in April, holding off Eliud Kipchoge, and took his first win on the Diamond League circuit with a victory at the Adidas Grand Prix in New York City. A run of 12:55.89 min at the Golden Gala made him Ethiopia's second fastest 5000 m runner that season and he was selected for the national team for the 2011 World Championships in Athletics. He comfortably progressed through the qualifying round and the 5000 m final came down to a four-way battle between himself, Farah, Lagat and Imane Merga. He was the last of the quartet to cross the line, but Imane Merga was disqualified after the medal ceremony as he had run outside of the track lanes. Dejen was promoted to the bronze medal, repeating his placing from the junior ranks three years previously.
Dejen improved his 3000 m best to 7:34.14 minutes at the XL Galan, but was a little slower at the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships, placing fifth in the event. He won the Carlsbad 5000 for a second year running in March 2012. Two 5000 m wins on the 2012 IAAF Diamond League circuit, including a personal best of 12:46.81 minutes, making him the fifth fastest ever over the distance and earning him selection for the 2012 Summer Olympics. At the Olympics in London, he was the fastest qualifier in winning his heat. In the final he chased Mo Farah over the final lap, but did not managed to catch the Briton and took the silver medal behind him. He ended the year with a fourth-place finish at the Weltklasse Zurich, finishing second in the Diamond League rankings after Isaiah Kiplangat Koech.
A third straight win at the Carlsbad race opened his outdoor season in 2013. At the 2013 World Championships in Athletics, Gebremeskel finished 16th in the 10,000 metres in a time of 27.51.88. In 2013, Gebremeskel held the world leading time for 10,000 metres of 26:51.02, which he set at the Folksam Grand Prix in Sollentuna, Sweden.
Capping off his 2014 indoor season, Gebremeskel scored a bronze medal in the 3000 metres with a time of 7:55.39 at the 2014 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Moscow, Russia. Gebremeskel went on to win his fourth straight Carlsbad 5000 race in 13:13, this time over American rival Bernard Lagat.
Major competition record
|2008||World Junior Championships||Bydgoszcz, Poland||3rd||5000 m||13:11.97|
|2010||World Indoor Championships||Doha, Qatar||10th||3000 m||7:48.69|
|2011||World Championships||Daegu, South Korea||3rd||5000 m||13:23.92|
|2012||World Indoor Championships||Istanbul, Turkey||5th||3000 m||7:42.60|
|Olympic Games||London, United Kingdom||2nd||5000 m||13:41.98|
|2013||World Championships||Moscow, Russia||16th||10,000 m||27:51.88|
|2014||World Indoor Championships||Sopot, Poland||3rd||3000 m||7:55.39|
|2016||Olympic Games||Rio de Janeiro, Brazil||12th||5000 m||13:15.91|
- 3000 metres – 7:51.02 min (2009)
- 5000 metres – 12:46.81 min (2012)
- 10000 metres – 26:51.02 min (2013)
- 5 kilometres (road) – 13:11 min (2011)
- 10 kilometres (road) – 27:45 min (2011)
- 3000 metres – 7:34.14 min (2012)
- 5000 metres – 13:11.78 min (2010)