24 MAR 2003 General News 24 March 2003 – Addis Ababa

Bekele’s World Cross defence back on course

Bekele breaking the tape at the 2002 World Cross Country Championships (Getty Images)Bekele breaking the tape at the 2002 World Cross Country Championships (Getty Images) © Copyright

Addis AbabaEthiopia’s reigning double World Cross Country gold medallist Kenenisa Bekele will be in the team that will take part in the 31st IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Lausanne – La Broye, this weekend (29-30 March).

The Ethiopian Athletics Federation (EAF) on Monday (24 March)confirmed that the 20-year old is included in the team despite having been unable to compete in the Ethiopian National Cross Country Championships, after going down with typhoid four days before the championships. His absence from the nationals which were the selection event for the World Cross, originally meant that Bekele was ruled out of defending the two World titles he won in Dublin last year.

However, the EAF said that it had decided to include Bekele in the team out of the national interest, and taking into consideration that the athlete had been training as per his given schedule prior to the Ethiopian Championships.

Team Doctor at the Ethiopian Athletics Federation Dr. Ayalew Tilahun, confirmed that he sees no problem with Bekele’s title defence. “The boy [Bekele] is a strong athlete,” he said. “I can definitely say that he will not be shaken by this illness.”

Bekele has been registered to compete in both short (4km) and long (12km) course distance races. But team coach Dr. Woldemeskel Kostre said that a possible double attempt would have to be on hold. “We will decide when we get there,” he said. “There are many things to consider such as the boy’s readiness and his health condition. So we shall see.”

Elshadai Negash for the IAAF