Hasan Mahboob Ali from Bahrain and Veerle Dejaeghere from Belgium enter the 38th edition of the Diekirch Eurocross - IAAF Cross Country Permit - meeting on Sunday (17) as the favourites.
The Bahraini Hasan Mahboob, formerly known as Silas Kirui, recently won the international cross country races in Kerkrade (NED) and in Dour (BEL) to prove that he is in great form at this moment.
The main challenge for Mahboob, who is the Asian games 10,000m champion, may well come from Gunther Weidlinger. The Austrian steeplechaser is returning from a successful training camp in South Africa. Other contenders are Khoudir Aggoune from Algeria, Mourad Maaroufit from Morocco and James Kosgei Cheruiyot from Kenya.
Veerle Dejaeghere is highly fancied to win the women’s race. The Belgian was an impressive winner of the international Lotto Cross Cup in Brussels in December and continued to perform well in January. However, last Sunday in Dour (BEL), she was surprisingly beaten by Mimi Belete and by Nathalie De Vos.
“I guess I’m starting to get tired a little bit now”, said Dejaeghere afterwards. “Diekirch will be the closing stage of my cross country season, I need some rest after that.”
There is more Belgian interest in Sunday’s race, with Xenia Luxem and Stephanie De Croock on the list of participants. The toughest opposition for Dejaeghere is expected to come from Fionnuala Britton who brings her Irish teammate Linda Byrne with her. Andrea Mayr from Austria and Rahab Ndungu from Kenya complete the list of favourites for a top spot in Diekirch.
Acting as a guest runner Sunday is Liz May. Liz May is the sportswoman of 2007 in Luxemburg and she is an Olympic qualifier in the triathlon.
Ivo Hendrix for the IAAF