MonteCarlo137 young athletes born in 1988, 1989 or 1990 representing 38 countries will take part in the 8-kilometre junior men’s race on Mombasa’s golf course at the 35th IAAF World Cross Country Championships, 24 March, Mombasa, Kenya.
After seeing Kenyans Augustine Choge and Mang’ata Ndiwa claim the 2005 and 2006 World Junior Cross Country gold medals respectively in St-Etienne/St-Galmier 2005 and Fukuoka 2006, the Ethiopian squad will be highly motivated to claim a title which was last in their hands when Tadesse Meba defeated Boniface Kiprop and Ernest Meli in Brussels’ Ossegem Park in 2004.
Not only has the individual junior title eluded Ethiopians for the last two years, the junior team title has seen an almost total monopoly from Kenya as the Eastern Africans have conquered all but one team gold (Ethiopia in 1998) since 1988!
In Mombasa, Abreham Cherkos Fekele and Ibrahim Jeylan Gashu – both of whom will still be eligible to run in the junior ranks when the World Cross Champs move to Edinburgh, Scotland, next year – will carry the nation’s hope.
A 3000m World Youth champion in Marrakech 2005, Fekele won silver in the World Junior 5000m final in Beijing, China in 2006 unable to counter the devastating finishing kick of compatriot Tariku Bekele, Ethiopia’s last individual medallist in the junior cross country race (bronze in 2006).
Fekele had previously showed the extent of his talent when setting the World Youth 5000m record in Rome’s Golden League meeting where he finished fifth in an amazing 12:54.19.
Gashu, who is only a couple of months older than Fekele, will also start as a favourite for the title following his World 10,000m gold medal winning performance at last year’s World Junior Championships in Beijing.
Kenyans will be led by Leonard Patrick Komon, an habitué of the summer circuit, the 19-year-old having finished sixth (7:37.69 3000m) at the Monaco Herculis meeting and then fourth (13:04.12 5000m) in Brussels Van Damme Golden League meeting five days later.
With four athletes per country scoring for the team final standings, it will be interesting to see who will eventually come out on top. The 2006 team bronze medallist Eritrea will work hard to defend their spot on the podium while full teams from 20 countries have entered the Championships.
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF>
TEAMS AND RESERVES
Teams of no more than twelve (12) athletes can be entered in the race. Nine (9) athletes will be allowed to start in each race, six (6) of whom will score.
Junior Men, Senior Women, Junior Women
Teams of no more than eight (8) athletes can be entered in all races. Six (6) athletes will be allowed to start in each race, four (4) of whom will score.
Junior athletes (i.e. athletes who are 18 or 19 by 31 December 2007) can compete in any race. However, Junior athletes cannot compete in both Junior and Senior Races.
Youth athletes (i.e. athletes who are 16 or 17 by 31 December 2007) can compete only in the Junior Race.