11 DEC 2011 General News Edinburgh, UK

Bekele and fellow reigning Olympic gold medallists to compete over the country in Edinburgh

Kenenisa Bekele running in the BUPA Great Edinburgh International Cross Country - IAAF Permit - race (Getty Images)Kenenisa Bekele running in the BUPA Great Edinburgh International Cross Country - IAAF Permit - race (Getty Images) © Copyright

 Kenenisa Bekele will head a star studded field including all of the reigning Olympic distance running champions at the Bupa Great Edinburgh XCountry - IAAF Cross Country Permit - meeting in the New Year.


The Ethiopian, recognised as the world's greatest ever cross country performer, will once again return to the Holyrood Park venue on 7 January 2012 where he will be joined by Kenyan stars Asbel Kiprop and Brimin Kipruto.


While Bekele became the first athlete to complete an Olympic 5000 and 10,000m double in 28 years at the 2008 Beijing Games, Kiprop and Kipruto won the 1500m and 3000m Steeplechase titles in the Bird's Nest stadium.


The trio will feature in the Invitation 3km race at the BBC televised Bupa Great Edinburgh XCountry, which will also host an International Team Challenge between the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team, the United States and a European Select side for all age groups.


"I think that it is fantastic the meeting will see all of the gold medallists who claimed every men's distance running title in Beijing facing one another and I'm sure a great race will be on the cards," said Brendan Foster, whose company Nova International organise the annual IAAF Permit meeting.


The 1976 Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist, added:  "Bekele's ran in the event before, securing fabulous victories on three occasions when the race was over the longer distance of 9k and memorably, he also scored the last of his record six World Cross Country title long course victories in Holyrood Park in 2008."


"Kenenisa also showed, after missing the entire 2010 track season through injury, he is back at his very best when producing the world's fastest 10,000m time this year at the end of the season in Brussels."


"He, Kiprop and Kipruto will fight tooth and nail to defend their Olympic titles. I think that determination will see them eager to kickstart their ambitions with great performances in Edinburgh at the start of the New Year."


Bekele, relishing his return to Scotland said: "I feel very comfortable starting my important Olympic year by competing in Edinburgh."


“Because of all the wonderful cross country's I ran there and of course the memories of becoming World Champion in Edinburgh after losing my spike during the race, it feels like coming home to race in Edinburgh against the best in the World."


“My training is going well and after my victory in the fastest time of the year in the Brussels 10,000m, I feel good and ready for the Olympic year ahead."


Bekele his sights set firmly on the London Games next summer, added: "I am looking forward to competing with Mo Farah in front of his home crowd which could make the 10,000m one of the greatest races of the games."


Kiprop and Kipruto return to the Bupa Great Edinburgh XCountry after finishing second and third in this year's race when outpaced by fellow countryman and former World 5000m champion Eliud Kipchoge, in the short course race.


"We had no problems in persuading either Kenyan to return and Kipruto, after missing the Bupa Great Edinburgh Run in September through injury, vowed then he wanted to come back to the capital for the cross country," said Foster.