Addis Ababa, EthiopiaWorld and Olympic 10,000m champion Kenenisa Bekele has been entered in Ethiopia’s 4km short and 12km long race teams as the Ethiopian Athletics Federation (EAF) named its provisional squad of athletes for the 33rd IAAF World Cross Country Championships in St-Etienne/St-Galmier, France.
But there is no such luck for Sileshi Sihine who will miss the championships after failing to recover from a knee injury sustained days ten days ago.
Bekele selected for double races
The 22-year-old Bekele withdrew from last weekend’s (Feb 26-27) 22nd Jan Meda International Cross Country, the final qualifying meet for the World Cross to recover from his second defeat in a month losing to fellow countryman Markos Genetti in the 3000m in Birmingham.
Although the 2004 World Athlete of the Year has suffered a dip in form in the last two months after the tragic death of his fiancée Alem Techale, he has been entered to take part in both the short and long course races in France.
Even before the tragic loss of his fiancée, Bekele had hinted at only contesting the long course race but according to Dube Julo, the EAF’s Technical Director, Bekele will ‘definitely’ take part in both races. “I can confirm that Kenenisa [Bekele] will run both races in France,” he said.
Sihine loses fitness battle
There was bad news for Ethiopia’s other rising running star and Olympic 10,000m silver medallist Sileshi Sihine, who has lost out in his battle to be fit for the championships. Like Bekele, the 21-year old missed the Ethiopian trials due to injury and faced a last-gasp effort to be fit in time for selection.
But Julo confirmed that Sihine is now definitely out of the championships. “His knees have failed to heal in time,” he said. “He will not take part in the championships.”
Six athletes entered in both distances
Apart from Bekele, there are six other Ethiopian runners who have been entered in both the short and long races. Dejene Berhanu, fifth in the Olympic 5000m final, and double World Cross Country silver medallist Gebregziabher Gebremariam have also been entered in both events.
The new World Indoor 5000m record holder Tirunesh Dibaba leads a trio of women who are set to take part in both the senior women’s events. After her fourth and third place finishes respectively last year, Werknesh Kidane hopes to return back to the kind of form that saw her win gold and silver in the 2003 championships in Lausanne. World Junior cross country champion Meselech Melkamu will hope to transform her second and first place finishes in the trials last weekend to medals in France, while 20-year Ethiopian 10,000m track bronze medalist Bizunesh Bekele will also be doing battle against the elite women in both races.
Ethiopia are expected to announce their final squad a week before the beginning of the championships on 19 March.
Elshadai Negash for the IAAF
Ethiopian provisional team for the 33rd IAAF World Cross Country Championships in St. Etienne/ St. Galmier, France
6km Junior Women
4km Senior Women
8km Senior Women
8km Junior Men
4km Senior Men
12km Senior Men