Freweyni Hailu Calls Out Ethiopian Athletics Federation For Olympic Team Omission

By Chris Chavez

July 8, 2024

Hannah Borenstein contributed reporting to the following article.

1500m World Indoor champion Freweyni Hailu called out the Ethiopian Athletics Federation for being left off the Ethiopian Olympic team for Paris, coming forward with her story to Ethiopia’s Hagere Television.

Here’s what you need to know:

– On Friday, the Ethiopian Athletics Federation announced its selections and alternates for the Paris Olympics. Gudaf Tsegay was selected for the 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m. She has yet to publicly comment on whether she will contest all three events at the Games. Tsegay won Olympic bronze in the 5000m in Tokyo and has two World golds from 2022 (5000m) and 2023 (10,000m).

– Tsegay has put together a strong season to explore her potential medal options for Paris. On April 20th, she ran 3:50.30 to become the third-fastest woman over 1500m. At the Prefontaine Classic, she attempted to break the 10,000m world record but was beaten to it by Beatrice Chebet and finished second in 29:05.92, which makes her the third-fastest woman in history. She has not run a 5000m this year but broke the world record in 14:00.21 to close out the Diamond League season at last September’s Prefontaine Classic.

– Freweyni Hailu, the 2024 World Indoor 1500m champion with a 3:55.48 SB, was not selected for the 1500m squad. Tsegay (3:50.30), Birke Haylom (3:53.22) and Diribe Welteji (3:53.75) have run faster this season. If Tsegay or another athlete does not contest the 1500m, EAF has named Hirut Meshesha (3:56.47 SB) as a reserve. It is arguably one of the toughest teams to make in the world.

Hailu ran 14:20.61 for 5000m at the Prefontaine Classic and is listed as a reserve for the 5000m squad. She's the third-fastest woman in the world for that event this year. Tsegay is the world record holder. Ejgayehu Taye beat her at the Prefontaine Classic in late May. Medina Eisa was selected over Hailu after a sixth place finish at the World Championships last year. Eisa has a 14:16.54 personal best but a season’s best of just 14:34.11, and has not raced since May 19th.

– Hailu has filed a formal complaint with the EAF.

– Several have commented on the EAF’s Facebook Post announcing the team, noting Hailu’s absence.


– Hailu and Tsegay were formerly training partners.

– After the 2022 season, Hailu and Lemlem Hailu (2022 World Indoor champion in the 3000m) parted ways from Tsegay’s training group and relations reportedly soured.

– Birke Haylom is also a part of Tsegay’s training group.

– There have been a few other recent athlete complaints made public about EAF’s selection criteria: notably Sutume Kebede, after being left off of the women’s marathon Olympic roster despite running 2:15:55 to win the Tokyo Marathon in March, and Telahun Bekele after being told the night before the men’s 5000m in Budapest that the alternate would run in his place.

– Hailu did not compete in the 1500m at last summer’s World Championships in Budapest. She ran a then-season’s best of 3:57.65 before the World Championships and so Diribe Welteji (who would go on to claim silver in the 1500m final behind Faith Kipyegon), Haylom and Hirut Meshesha were selected due to faster performances. Hailu closed out the season in strong fashion with a personal best of 3:55.68 for fourth place in the Diamond League final at the Prefontaine Classic.

– Hailu was selected for the 5000m and ended up finishing seventh in the final.

– Hailu also earned a silver medal in the mile at the inaugural World Athletics Road Running Championships in Riga, Latvia, last September. Welteji won gold to lead an Ethiopian 1–2.

– Hailu’s PB is 3:55.28 indoors from February 2024. On May 18th, 2024, she lowered her outdoor personal best to 3:55.48 with a runner-up finish at the Los Angeles Grand Prix. Welteji beat her by just .23 seconds.

Here’s what Hailu told Hagere Television (video here). The following has been translated from Amharic to English and lightly edited for clarity:

“My name is Freweyni Hailu. I am an athlete who specializes in the 1,500m and 5,000m. For the 2024 Paris Olympics, today's official athletes' selection, I was excluded from both races. In other words, I had a better performance this year. I also won gold in the 1,500 meters indoor. I hold the third-fastest time of the year in the 5,000 meters. However, athletes who ran a year ago were selected instead, leaving me out of both races. I want the people of Ethiopia and sports enthusiasts to understand my situation and see my efforts.

Additionally, I achieved the minimum qualifying time for the World Championships in Budapest, but they said ‘We are closed.’ However, after they closed, they selected athletes claiming they wanted current performances. They have wronged me again by excluding me. Once again, for the second time, I am being unfairly treated. Last year, I stayed quiet and let it go, saying, ‘Okay, no problem.’

But now, for the second time, I am being treated this way. I want the people of Ethiopia to see this situation. How long will the federation continue to act like this? And how long will we have to suffer under their decisions? I want everyone to be aware of this injustice.

After being told that they ran in 2023, I went on to become a medalist in the mile: a silver medalist in the road mile and a gold medalist in indoor. Despite this, for 2024, they are selecting athletes who haven’t even competed this year, and they are selecting them based on their 2023 performances. Why aren’t they still screening? Why aren’t they selecting fairly? They are being chosen without running, while we are left behind despite our hard work and efforts. Why is this happening? Why is the Olympics not seeing this? Why is the federation unable to recognize our efforts? I want an explanation for this. Why are they being selected without competing, while I am left out despite all my running?”

Here is the full Ethiopian Olympic team for Paris:


800m: Habitam Alemu, Tsige Duguma, and Worknesh Mesele

1500m: Gudaf Tsegay, Birke Haylom, and Diribe Welteji

5000m: Ejigayehu Taye, Gudaf Tsegay, and Medina Eisa

10,000m: Gudaf Tsegay, Tsigie Gebreselama, and Fotyen Tesfay

Marathon: Tigist Assefa, Amane Beriso, and Megertu Alemu

3000m Steeplechase: Sembo Almayew and Lomi Muleta


1500m: Samuel Tefera, Abdisa Feyisa, and Ermias Girma

5000m: Hagos Gebrhiwet, Yomif Kejelcha, and Adisu Yihune

10,000m: Berihu Aregawi, Selemon Barega, and Yomif Kejelcha

Marathon: Sisay Lemma, Deresa Geleta, and Kenenisa Bekele

3000m Steeplechase: Lemecha Girma, Samuel Firewu, and Getnet Wale

20km Race Walk: Misgana Wakuma

Chris Chavez

Chris Chavez launched CITIUS MAG in 2016 as a passion project while working full-time for Sports Illustrated. He covered the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and grew his humble blog into a multi-pronged media company. He completed all six World Marathon Majors and is an aspiring sub-five-minute miler.