Addis AbabaEthiopia continues to wait on the fitness and health of its double World Cross Country Champion Kenenisa Bekele, as the 31st IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Lausanne edge ever closer.
The Ethiopian Athletics Federation (EAF) announced today that it will wait to decide if Bekele will travel with the team to Lausanne.
The 20-year old, who caused a stir last year when he won both the short and long course senior races in Dublin, missed the Ethiopian National Cross Country Championships a week ago, after going down with typhoid. He has been receiving treatment as of 25 February, and only resumed training on Saturday 8 March.
Mr. Endalk Kelemwork, Technical Director of the EAF, said that the Federation will wait until the final day of submission to decide whether Bekele will be included in the team. “He [Bekele] just started training after recovering from illness,” he said. “We will wait to see how he performs in training because his fitness is very vital.”
However, Bekele's name is still included in the Ethiopian team officially announced today. He is listed to participate in both short (4km) and long (12km) courses, but according to National coach Dr. Woldemeskel Kostre, a possible double attempt again this year remains in the balance. “We will have to see how he comes back to training,” he said. “I do not want to make any statements because we will decide when we get there [Lausanne].”
Dr. Kostre pointed out that the rest of the Ethiopian team is the strongest available, although he restrained from suggesting that he and the coaching staff expect a better result that at previous championships. “We have the best team that we can possibly have,” he said. “It is a mix of youth and experience. Our preparations have gone well. But I do not want to comment on what the outcome will be in Lausanne for obvious reasons.”
The strongest representation comes in the 12km Senior Men’s category where Gebregziabher Gebremariam will make his senior World Cross debut in Lausanne. Training partner Sileshi Sihin is also one to look out for, as the duo hope to team up again to devastating effect.
In the 4km Senior Men’s races, Ethiopia will have its faith in the former holder of the World 2-Mile Indoor best Hailu Mekonnen as he returns to form after spending most of 2002 on the treatment table. The 22-year old could also make a double attempt at the 12km distance, but remains Ethiopia’s best bet for honours if Kenenisa Bekele fails to make the team.
In the Women’s section, Workinesh Kidane is included in both 4km and 8km teams for Lausanne. It is another fairly strong line-up with the likes of Tirunesh Dibaba, Eyerusalem Kumar and Merima Denboba in hunt for honours too.
Elshadai Negash for the IAAF
Official Ethiopian Team for Lausanne
12km Senior Men
Kenenisa Bekele (tentative)
4km Senior Men
Kenenisa Bekele (tentative)
4km Senior Women
8km Junior Men
6km Junior Women
8km Senior Women