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Bekele goes for Dublin double

Bekele goes for Dublin double
Chris Turner for the IAAF

18 March 2002 - Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele, will contest both the men’s short and long course races at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Dublin, this weekend. As a junior at last year’s competition in Ostend, Bekele claimed a remarkable silver medal in the senior men’s 4km short course race, returning the next day to win the World Junior title by 33 seconds, the biggest winning margin ever!

Bekele, who won the famous ‘Cinque Mulini’ (11.8km) cross country race near Milan on 10 March, is in excellent condition and wants to ‘double up’ in Dublin, despite the fears of many that he is perhaps too young to attempt such a feat.

“I am feeling very good and easy, and have only lost once [in December, to Haile Gebrselassie] this cross country season. I know I am young but I feel strong.” After Dublin, Bekele will run on the roads in the grounds of Queen Elizabeth’s Scottish estate, Balmoral Castle, before returning to Ethiopia to prepare for his summer campaign.

Third in the Cinque Mulini in Milan was fellow Ethiopian Assefa Mezgebu, the World 10,000m silver medallist, who will run just the men’s long course in Dublin. Mezgebu’s appearance is something of a surprise, because after slipping and sliding through the mud in Belfast in 1999, he swore he would never race cross country again on the Emerald Isle!

But when Mezgebu considered the choice of running indoors or cross country this winter, he opted for the fields, commenting  - “I don’t like running in mud but I’m advised that the course in Dublin will not be like Belfast.”

Also in the Ethiopian team for Dublin is Million Wolde, the Olympic 5000m champion, who will run the men’s short course, and is keen to improve on his best ever placing at World Cross Country Championships, 4th in 1999. The 2000 competition in Vilamoura was a particular disaster for Wolde who, trying to compensate for a slow start the previous year, went off at a blistering pace, only to trip and fall twice on the first lap.

After Dublin, Wolde is likely to make a summer track debut at 10,000m in the IAAF Grand Prix II meeting in Hengelo on 2 June.