A few days ago, we started a series on Africa’s Top 10 Female Athletes in 2022. Part 1 of the series featured athletes across the sprints, jumps, middle and long distance events while Part 2 contains a mix of middle and long distance runners and a sprinter/hurdler, all of whom were outstanding in 2022. Here we go!
5. Letensebet Gidey
No.5 of our Top 10 list is Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey who had dreamed of being a pilot or doctor while growing up. However, she has since found great success in running and is regarded as the fastest female distance runner in history as she currently holds World Records (WR) over 5000m (14:06.62), 10,000m (29:01.03), and the half-marathon (1:02:52). Gidey is only the second athlete after Ingrid Kristiansen (1989 – 1991) to simultaneously hold all three records.
Gidey’s WR in the half-marathon was clocked in 2021 where she was making her debut appearance in the event, making her the first debutante to set a WR in the event, breaking the previous mark by more than a minute.
Gidey raced twice over the 10,000m in 2022, the first one being the FBK Games in Hengelo where she settled for 2nd, and then the World Championships final where she overcame the threat posed by the Kenyan duo of Hellen Obiri and Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi to claim her maiden senior global track title with a time of 30:09.94, an upgrade from her Silver from Doha.
She went on to race in the 5000m a few days later and despite winning her heat, the Ethiopian could only finish 5th in the final with her time of 14:47.98, with teammates Gudaf Tsegay and Dawit Seyaum clinching GOLD and Bronze respectively.
In December, Gidey recorded the fastest women’s marathon debut in history at the 2022 Valencia Marathon as she finished 2nd to compatriot Amane Beriso who clocked 2:14.58 to become only the third woman in history to do a sub-2:15 in the women’s marathon. Gidey’s time of 2:16:51 surpassed the previous fastest women’s debut time posted by Almaz Ayana (2:17:20) to win the Amsterdam Marathon back in October, bringing a fitting end to a fruitful season for the Tokyo Olympics Bronze medallist.