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Tulu could pose biggest threat to Wami

Tulu could pose biggest threat to Wami
Sabrina Yohannes (Reuters)
17 March 2000 - Vilamoura, Portugal  - Former champion Derartu Tulu could pose the biggest threat to Gete Wami's prospects of retaining the world cross country women's long course title on Saturday.

Tulu, the first Ethiopian woman to win an Olympic title when she took the 10,000 metres gold at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, won the event in 1995 and 1997. She finished fourth in Cape Town in 1996 when her shoe was kicked off during the race. She did not run in Belfast last year, where the Ethiopian team headed by Wami regained the women's team title, because of a knee injury.

"I've been training for about a year and three months now," she said. "But it is now that I will really see what kind of shape I'm in."

Tulu finished fifth in her marathon debut in Boston three years ago and plans to compete in the London marathon on April 16 with the aim of qualifying to run either the marathon or the 10,000 at the Sydney Olympics. "My training has been mostly for the marathon," she said. "Before the Ethiopian trials I had no plans to run cross country this year."

Wami, who overtook Tulu to win the bronze medal in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics 10,000 metres final, finished behind her team mate at last month's trials. The race came shortly after Wami dropped out of the Nairobi cross country challenge through injury. "It wasn't too serious," she said. "There was some pushing and someone's spikes dug into my ankle."

Wami is familiar with the fast, flat Vilamoura course where she recorded one of her three cross challenge victories this season. "The weather is good, too," she said. "It's sunny, like Addis Ababa."

The women responsible for the team honours last year include Merima Worku, who snatched silver from Briton Paula Radcliffe in the closing stretch, and Ayelech Worku, fourth in this year's cross challenge standings. Both may figure prominently this year, although Radcliffe and Kenyan Lydia Cheromei present more serious challenges.

So, too, does Tulu. "It's not just her," said Wami. "Once a competitor puts on a pair of shorts and enters the race you never know what can
happen. It's everyone that you are up against. None of them is to be taken lightly."