Edinburgh Cross Country: Victory for Kirubel Erasa, not so for Kenenisa Bekele
Edinburgh, Scotland Ã¢â‚¬â€œ TodayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross-Country competition turned out to be a great day for 18-year-old Ethiopian-American Kirubel Erasa, who finished first in the junior menÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 6km, but not so for Kenenisa Bekele and Atelaw Bekele (Belgian-Ethiopian), who were beaten in their respective races.
Kenenisa finished a very disappointing 11th place in the menÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 3km run while Atelaw, the European cross country champion, came in 3rd in the menÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 8km race.
The 6-foot Addis Ababa born Erasa, who is a student athlete at Oklahoma State University, overtook Kieron Clements of Great Britain to win by a very close margin and helping the US win the team title.
Kenenisa has been nursing an injury that kept him from international competition for close to 2 years, and his performance today has left many to wonder whether he will be a serious contender at this yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Olympic Games.
It was KenyaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Asbel Kiprop, the Olympic 1500m champion, who ran away with the 3km title.Ã‚Â Kiprop won in 9:20 with a comfortable margin over the field. Former world 5000m champion Eliud Kipchoge had looked set to finish second, but he was overtaken on the line by British youngster Jonny Hay, who enjoyed perhaps his best ever international performance. Kipchoge did manage to hold off a fast-finishing Juan Carlos Higuero.
Ethiopian-born Atelaw Bekele of Belgium, the European cross-country champion, was also beaten in the senior menÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s team race.
When relative unknown Bekele scored a runaway victory at last monthÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s European Cross-Country Championships, he took the field by surprise and won by a considerable margin.
But in todayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s team race Ã¢â‚¬â€œ where Great Britain took on the USA and Europe Ã¢â‚¬â€œ everyone was aware of who he was and his opponents did not allow him to steal a march again. In particular it was Ayad Lamdassem, silver medallist at the European Cross for the past two years, who kept a close eye on his Belgian rival.
Unlike his run at the Europeans, Bekele stayed with the pack for the early stages. He was closely tracked by SpainÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Lamdassem, IrelandÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Joe Sweeney, BritainÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Steve Vernon and Frank Tickner and USAÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Bobby Mack.
The positions did not change much for the majority of the race, although Bekele and Lamdassem had built up a bit of a margin over the final lap. But the Spaniard kicked hard when attacking the final hill and suddenly opened up significant distance over Bekele, driving hard to the line and winning in 25:44.
With a fast finish, Mack of the USA sprinted past Bekele on the line to take second, both athletes clocking 25:47, while Tickner was top Briton in fifth (25:55).
1 Asbel Kiprop (KEN) 9:20
2 Jonny Hay (GBR) 9:25
3 Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) 9:26
11. Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia)Ã‚Â
1 Ayad Lamdassem (EEP) 25:44
2 Bobby Mack (USA) 25:47
3 Atelaw Bekele (BEL) 25:47
Junior menÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 6km
1 Kirubel Erassa (USA) 19:54
2 Kieron Clements (GBR) 19:55
3 Mark Shaw (GBR) 19:58