EUROPEAN Cross Country champions Atelaw Bekele of Belgium and Fionnuala Britton of Ireland are the star attractions in a select team for the Bupa Great Edinburgh XCountry.

After wins at the European championships in Slovenia earlier this month, they will start as favourites when they represent Europe in the team event against GB and Team USA in Holyrood Park on 7 January.

Britton became the first Irishwoman to win European gold since Catherine McKiernan at the first Championships in 1994.

For Ethiopian-born 24-year-old Bekele, the Great Edinburgh XCountry will be his first outing as a professional runner, having decided to pursue a full-time career. After victory in Slovenia, he won at the IAAF Cross Challenge Permit meeting the following week in Brussels and will start as favourite in the men’s 8km.

The European men’s contingent also includes Spain’s Ayad Lamdessem and Javier Garcia as well as Joe Sweeney of Ireland. They will be captained by Sergiy Lebid – Ukraine’s nine times gold medallist.