World Indoor 3000m champion Tariku Bekele has pulled out of the Ethiopian squad for the 37th IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Amman, Jordan, Saturday 28 March, after sustaining a training ground injury.
The 22-year-old, who had finished fourth in the trials last month and was a junior bronze medallist in 2006 dropped out of training last week with an ankle injury. He had hoped to recover in time to compete for the championships in Amman. But after presenting medical evidence to selectors this week, he was relieved of his duties with the national team to focus on rehabilitation.
Dino Sefer, who won the European XC Permit meeting in Hannut, Belgium earlier in the year and finished seventh in the trials, replaces T. Bekele in the squad which flew to Amman in Tuesday evening.
Tariku's absence is the latest blow for Ethiopia's hopes of challenging Kenya for both individual and team honours in Amman. The green-vested East Africans are already without Tariku's elder brother and eleven-time world cross country champion Kenenisa, 2006 silver medallist Sileshi Sihine, and three-time women's champion Tirunesh Dibaba, who are all nursing long-term injuries.
Without their established stars competing, Ethiopia will be looking to a young squad in a bid to repeat their domination of last year's edition where they won all four individual and two of the four team titles in Edinburgh, Scotland.
There are big hopes for names like Feyissa Lelisa, 14th in the junior race last year, to make the step up to senior ranks after his dominating performances in the domestic cross country circuit this season. All- African Games 10000m silver medallist Tadesse Tola and the experienced Gebregziabher Gebremariam should also provide experience to the young squad.
Elshadai Negash for the IAAF