Tariku Bekele of Ethiopia has come to a late agreement with the organisers so that he can attempt to defend his title at the Sportzone Oeiras Cross Country - IAAF Permit - meeting which takes place on Saturday 19 November 2005.
Bekele, Worku, and Mosop to star
The 18-year-old (he becomes 18, on 21 Jan 06), the brother of the better known Kenenisa, the multiple World track and cross country champion, tops the list of entries this weekend. This year Tariku Bekele, the 2004 World Junior 5000m track bronze medallist, has shown amazing development into senior racing, as after finishing sixth in the World Cross Country Junior race, he came seventh at 5000m in the senior World Championships on the track in Helsinki.
If the Oeiras race turns out to be as exciting as last year’s - remember that Bekele beat Paul Tergat and Bado Worku (both in 26:29m) only by a second - then the event has guaranteed success. Tergat does not return this time but Worku, 17, the 5000m silver medallist at the 2004 World Junior Championships, is already confirmed.
Other top names running include four Kenyan talents. Moses Mosop, 20, the World 10,000m bronze medallist from Helsinki this summer, who was a member of the Kenyan team at the World Cross in 2003 (jnr – 7th) and 2005 (senior long course – 18th), will be joined by Moses Kigen, third in Oeiras in 2003, William Chebon, who won last weekend’s cross country in Milan, and Mark Bett (26:52.93 10,000m PB), who was third in that race.
European team selection at stake again
The best Portuguese runners will also be on show. Just like in last week’s Amora race, Oeiras also acts as a selection meet for the national team for the upcoming European Cross Country Championships (11 Dec), as well as offering an attractive prize list.
Fernando Silva, the national champion in 2004 and 2005, will test his shape, but has to face the four-times European Cross champion, Paulo Guerra, who showed a return to form last week with second place in Amora.
Eduardo Henriques, the current national road race champion, Manuel Magalhães, the winner of that title in 2004, Ricardo Ribas, Manuel Damião, José Maduro, Luís Pinto, and Sérgio Silva are also confirmed as running. Paulo Pinheiro, one of the best disabled athletes, bronze medallist in the Worlds 2005, will also be present.
WOMEN – Melkamu, the hot favourite
In the women’s event, the organisers - Maratona CP and Oeiras City Hall - have assembled an excellent field headed by the Ethiopian Meselech Melkamu, who was the 2004 World Junior cross country champion, and was 4th (long race) and 6th (short race) in the senior race at the World Cross this season. Melkamu is also the reigning World junior 5000m track champion.
The Kenyan’s Irene Kwambai and Catherine Chikwakwa (Malawi), second in the 2004 World Junior track 5000m, complete a formidable African trio of racers.
Among the Portuguese contenders are names like Mónica Rosa, Inês Monteiro (2005 national road race champion) and Anália Rosa. These three athletes made up the team that won the European Cross Country title in 2004. Joining them will be other great Portuguese athletes like Carla Sacramento, Helena Sampaio, Elisabete Lopes, and Leonor Carneiro, the winner last week in Amora.
Paulo Costa for the IAAF