Mimi Belete comes home to a comfortable victory at the 2009 Eurocross (Rosch Kohl) © Copyright
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Matebo, Belete sisters the favourites in Diekirch Eurocross

Diekirch, LuxembourgKenyan Levy Matebo and sisters Mimi and Almenesh Belete will start as the favourites as Luxembourg’s Eurocross, the penultimate IAAF Cross Country Permit meeting of 2010, celebrates its 40th anniversary on Sunday (28).

Matebo faces Nkuzimana

Matebo counts amongst the biggest talents of Kenyan long distance running. The 20- year-old has already shown his potential on the track, in cross country and in road running. With a 5000m PB of 13:03, run in 2008, Matebo surely has the speed and the stamina to emerge in any kind of running conditions or on any surface.

His main contender on Sunday looks to be Onesphore Nkuzimana, formerly known as Sultan Khamis Zaman when he was adopted to compete for Qatar. Nkuzimana regained allegiance for his native country Burundi and returns to familiar ground. Under his former name Nkuzimana won the Eurocross in 2005 and in 2007 and he can become the first athlete to win the event for a third time. The Burundian proved his form in winning the Hannut XC in Belgium last week.

Mustapha El Riyad from Bahrain and Hassan Chahdi from France were recently added to the field and can be strong outsiders.

Belete sisters reunited as rivals

In 2009 Mimi Belete migrated to Bahrain, after having lived as an Ethiopian refugee in Belgium for several years. For her new country Belete won a medal at the Asian Cross Country Championships and qualified for the World Championships in Berlin in the 1500m. Belete also won in Diekirch last year and returns here to defend her title. Mimi Belete then outsprinted her younger sister, but the 21-year-old Almensh is now determined to make it a tough battle.

Almenesh Belete relies on an impressive campaign in cross country this winter. The younger sister is based in Belgium and hopes to be able to compete soon for the country where she lives and works. Almenesh Belete brought her PB over 1500m down to 4:09 in 2009 but she looks to have made significant progress over the last months. Both sisters reunite as rivals to battle for victory in Diekirch.

It will not be easy to follow the pace of the Belete sisters, but Simret Restle (GER) and Linda Byrne (IRL) will try to give chase.

Ivo Hendrix for the IAAF