Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Team Kenya wary of Ethiopian foes

Kenya’s Abel Kirui (second from right) leads Feyisa Lilesa of Ethiopia (right), Eiud Kiptanui and Vincent Kipruto during the men’s marathon at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Daegu in 2011. Kirui won in 2:07:38.

Kenya’s Abel Kirui (second from right) leads Feyisa Lilesa of Ethiopia (right), Eiud Kiptanui and Vincent Kipruto during the men’s marathon at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Daegu in 2011. Kirui won in 2:07:38.  NATION

By AYUMBA AYODI [email protected]

The athletics team squad members now know what their perennial rivals, Ethiopia, have got up their sleeves ahead of the 2013 World Cross Country Championships due March 23 in Poland.

World Championships marathon bronze medalist, Feyisa Lilesa, and 2011 Maputo All Africa Games  3,000m steeplechase, Hiwot Ayalew, won senior men 12km and senior women 8km races to claim automatic places in Ethiopia’s team for the Bydgoszcz event.

Full squad

However, Ethiopia is expected to announce its full squad of athletes in the coming week, with the top five athletes in each event getting automatic selection during the 30th Jan Meda International that claimed bigwigs on Sunday.

Among the major casualties were World Cross Country senior men champion, Imane Merga, former World indoors 1,500m champion, Gelete Burka, and World Youth 3,000m champion, Gotytom Gebreslase.

Consequently, Hagos Gebrhiwet, the World junior record-holder for the indoor 3,000m and outdoor 5,000m, continued his impressive early season form by winning the men’s junior race, while Alemitu Haroye took the honours in the corresponding women’s race.

The Ethiopian trials may have been missing some of the country’s more illustrious cross-country athletes, but there was no shortage of thrills and excitement in another action-packed event at the Jan Meda race course.

Lilesa, who is preparing to run in the 2013 Virgin London Marathon, took a hard-fought victory in the senior men’s race after evading the intentions of World junior 10,000m champion Yigrem Demelash in the last kilometre of the race.

An expectant crowd shifted their attention to the finish line in an anticipation of a grand slam finale, but Lilesa used his experience to move away in the final lap. (Additional reporting by IAAF).

Competing for the Defence Forces club, Lilesa raised his hands in a military salute in the last 50m and completed the greeting at the finish line, which he crossed in 34:36. Yigrem Demelash followed close behind in 34:41 with Mosinet Geremew closing out the top three in 34:51.

“I wasn’t ready to run this race and I heard about it two days ago as I came back from an international competition this week. I didn’t expect to win it,” said Lilesa after the race.

Even though I have a participated four times in this event, my success before wasn’t good.”

There were no such problems in the women’s race for Hiwot Ayalew, fifth in the Olympic 3000m Steeplechase, who looked a class apart with a dominant display of front running.

Also to make the senior women’s team are three-time World cross country bronze medallist Meselech Melkamu, former World junior 5000m champion Sule Utura, World junior cross country silver medallist Genet Yalew and  Olympic 10,000m eighth placer Belaynesh Oljira.

Senior men’s 12km

1 Feysa Lilesa 34:36

2 Yigrem Demelash 34:41

3 Mosinet Geremew 34:51

4 Abera Chane 34:54

5 Tesfaye Abera 34:57

6 Mekashaw Eshete 35:03

Senior women’s 8km

1 Hiwot Ayalew 26:22

2 Genet Yalew 26:31

3 Yebrqual Melese 26:37

4 Meselech Melkamu 26:41

5 Belaynesh Oljira 26:44

6 Sule Utura 26:49

Junior men’s 8km

1 Hagos Gebrhiwet 22:59

2 Birhan Nbaw 23:02

3 Bonsa Dida 23:14

4 Tsegaye Hluf 23:15

5 Muktar Edris 23:20

6 Yhunlign Adane 23:21

Junior women’s 6km

1 Alemitu Haroye 19:44

2 Buze Diriba 19:48

3 Alemitu Hawi 19:53

4 Ruti Aga 20:04

5 Sofia Shemsu 20:07

6 Mihret Tefera 20:15

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