[dehai-news] (IAAF) Zersenay Tadese leads stellar line-up for Edinburgh

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From: Biniam Tekle (biniamt@dehai.org)
Date: Fri Jan 09 2009 - 10:25:16 EST

Thursday, 08 January 2009
 Tadese leads stellar line-up for Edinburgh - PREVIEW

Edinburgh, UK - Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele may be absent but
organisers have once again ensured a stellar line-up for both the mne's and
women's races at the Bupa Great Edinburgh International held at the historic
Holyrood Park on Saturday (10). The venue played host to the World Cross
Country Championships in 2008.

The Edinburgh meeting is the fourth of ten IAAF Cross Country permit
meetings being staged in the 2008/2009 season.


Bekele, the men's champion for the past three years, will not be defending
his title because of injury but the depth of the field in the men's 8.9km
race ensures his non-appearance will not be too keenly felt.

Leading the contenders is 2007 World Cross Country champion Zersenay Tadese,
who will desperate to go one better in the Scottish capital this year after
finishing runner up in 2007 and 2008. The diminutive Eritrean secured a
hat-trick of World Road Running titles in Rio last October and the
26-year-old will be keen to open his cross country year with a bang.

Tadese's chief opposition is likely to come from Olympic 5000m silver
medallist Eliud Kipchoge, the third place finisher for the past two years at
Holyrood Park.

The Kenyan has looked in his best form for some time over the past six
months and warmed up for Saturday's battle by claiming a narrow two-second
victory in the snow against Sergey Lebid at the San Giorgio su Legnano race
on Tuesday.

Lebid, the eight-time European cross country champion, will have a quick
opportunity for revenge, however, as he also lines up in the top quality

The Ukrainian triumphed in the 4km event in Edinburgh two years and as one
of Europe's few world-class endurance runners he will once again seek to
make his presence felt among the top African athletes.

Commonwealth 5000m champion Augustine Choge bolsters the Kenyan challenge
and watch out, too for Uganda's Boniface Kiprop, who is returning to full
fitness after a nagging hip problem for the past two seasons.

Kiprop, a two-time World Junior Cross Country silver medallist, will have
benefited from his outing at the Antrim Cross Country International last
weekend also an IAAF XC permit meeting - where he finished second despite
losing his shoe on the penultimate lap and conceding 50m to the eventual
winner Imane Merga of Ethiopia.

Kenyan's Bernard Kipyego, the 2007 World Cross bronze medallist, and
Ethiopia's Abebe Dinkesa, a fourth-place finisher at the 2005 World Cross
Country Championships, should also not be discounted.

The British challenge is led by Olympic 3000m steeplechaser Andrew
Lemoncello. The Scot, who will be competing on home ground, finished third
behind Kiprop in Antrim and will be hopeful of a prominent showing.

A largely domestic men's 4km race witnesses a re-match of last year's 1-2 as
defending champion and Olympic 1500m finalist Andy Baddeley faces European
under-23 cross country silver medallist Andy Vernon.


Much of the pre-race attention in the women's 5.6km race has been reserved
for talented British teenager Stephanie Twell. The 19-year-old World Junior
1500m champion began her senior career last weekend with an eye-catching
victory in Antrim and she will take great heart from her outstanding
performance in Edinburgh 12 months ago, where she finished fourth, behind
Ethiopia's former world cross country champion Gelete Burka.

However, the teenager faces a much tougher challenge in the Scottish capital
than she did in Northern Ireland. Leading the African threat is Mestawet
Tufa, who won a silver medal in the World Cross Country Championships here
at Holyrood Park 12 months ago. The Ethiopian is a formidable athlete on all
surfaces and last November missed the World 15km record on the roads by just
two seconds in Nijmegen.

Linet Chepkwemoi Masai, also aged 19, is another prodigious talent who was
World Junior Xc champion in 2007, landed a senior bronze medal at the last
World Cross last March and set a World junior 10,000m record en route to an
impressive fourth place finish in the Olympic Games last summer. The Kenyan
goes into the event high on confidence after bagging a 13-seond victory in
Amorebieta, Spain last Sunday.

Trailing Masai in Spain was her countrywoman Vivian Cheruiyot and the
diminutive Kenyan, who won the 2007 World 5000m silver medal, should also
not be overlooked.

Genezebe Dibaba, the reigning World Junior cross country champion and
younger sister of double Olympic champion Tirunesh, is also entered and look
out too for European Cross Country silver medallist Jessica Augusto of

*Steve Landells for the IAAF*

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