Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ethiopian men sweep 10,000-meter race at African Championships

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) -- Ethiopia swept the men's 10,000-meter race Wednesday on the opening day of the African Athletics Championships.

Gebregziabher Gebremariam won in 28 minutes, 17 seconds after pulling away from the pack halfway through the race. Junior champion Ibrahim Jeylan finished second, and national champion Eshetu Wondimu was third.

The three Ethiopians linked arms after the race for a victory lap in front of about 25,000 fans.

Olympic champion and world record holder Kenenisa Bekele withdrew from the race earlier Wednesday for unspecified reasons.

"I will not run it," Bekele told The Associated Press. "I can't answer for you by telephone. It's very difficult."

Bekele's withdrawal is not expected to affect his chances of running at this year's Beijing Olympics.

Haile Gebrselassie, the former world record holder and two-time Olympic champion in the 10,000, was not named to Ethiopia's team for the event. But Gebrselassie is still hoping to run the 10,000 in Beijing after pulling out of the Olympic marathon.

The heavy rain and cool temperatures in Addis Ababa kept the field from faster times in Wednesday's race.

With Bekele out of the race, Gebregziabher was asked if thought the Kenyans -- including John Korir, Bernard Sang and Julius Kiptoo -- would be able to win.

"This is Ethiopia," Gebregziabher said. "It is impossible."

The championships feature more than 800 competitors from 41 African nations. Ethiopia, with 140 athletes, has the most participants, including Olympic 5,000 champion Meseret Defar and rival Tirunesh Dibaba.

With continent's legends gathered, African Athletics Hall of Fame launched in Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - An array of distinguished African athletics talent, the like of which had never been gathered in one place before, assembled here Tuesday (29) night to launch a hall of fame marking the continent’s rich history. From the son of Abebe Bikila, through the likes of Kip Keino, Miruts Yifter and Frankie Fredericks, to present-day stars such as Meseret Defar, Tirunesh Dibaba and Haile Gebrselassie, the occasion overflowed with star quality.

Of the 75 athletes inducted at the first “African Hall of Fame Gala”, 37 were present to receive their awards in the city’s Sheraton Hotel. Described as a night to mark almost 50 years of the continent’s success, from the first Olympic gold medal won by an African in 1960, courtesy of Bikila in the men’s Marathon, tributes came thick and fast from leading dignitaries.

To qualify for the Hall of Fame athletes had to fit one or more of three categories: Olympic gold medallist, World champion, or World record breaker. But, as Hamad Kalkaba Malboum, the President of the Confederation of African Athletics, said: “For some of you here, it may be all of the above.”

Host nation's Prime Minister pays tribute

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, H.E. Meles Zenawi, in attendance, paid enormous tribute to the athletes, saying: “How very proud I am to be among the cream of the cream of Africans. You, the athletes of today and yesterday, have made it when Africa as a whole effectively has failed.

“You have almost single-handedly held the banner of Africa high and everyone should be proud to be among you today. We are elated that we have finally come to recognise your heroic deeds.

“This is belated recognition, way too late, but as the British say: ‘Better late than never’. I very much hope that, in the coming years, you will not be alone in shouldering the burden of keeping Africa’s flag flying.”

In a filmed message, Jacques Rogge, the President of the International Olympic Committee, said: “I would have liked to be there for this first ever African Athletics Gala. Allow me to congratulate President Kalkaba Malboum for this splendid initiative.”

Among the other leading athletes present were: Mohamed Gammoudi, Tunisia’s 1968 Olympic 5000m champion; Kenya’s John Ngugi, 1988 Olympic 5000m gold medallist and five times World Cross Country champion; Abdi Bile, Somalia’s 1987 World 1500m champion; Derartu Tulu, Ethiopia’s 1992 and 2000 Olympic 5000m champion; Maria Mutola, Mozambique’s triple World and 2000 Olympic 800m champion.

Ngugi said that he was “very happy and proud to be here”. Gebrselassie described the occasion as “a wonderful night – I have never seen so many big names gathering, especially here in my home town.” Keino said that he was “very honoured”. But the most moving comments came from Yetnayet Abebe, son of Bikila.

Bikila fondly remembered

Guests at the Gala, held on the eve of the 16th African Championships here, were shown film of Bikila winning his 1960 and 1964 Olympic gold medals. The footage noted in particular how Bikila, apparently still fresh after his second triumph, launched into a series of stretching exercises on the infield of the Tokyo Olympic Stadium.

When Bikila died in 1973, aged 41, his funeral in Addis was attended by 65,000 people. Collecting the award on his behalf, Yetnayet said: “I cannot explain my feelings because of the emotion. I wish he had been alive to see this night.” A display of 126 photographs marking Bikila’s career is currently on display in the Addis Ababa Museum.

Noting that Bikila had been the athlete who started the whole thing off, President Kalkaba Malboum added: “We are all proudly meeting on the native land of this worthy son of Africa…to celebrate these exploits and to pay homage to these sons and daughters who are the pride of our continent.”

Lamine Diack, the President of the International Association of Athletics Federations, said that Africa has grown to become an athletics superpower, noting not only the athletes’ success at Olympics and IAAF World Championships but the four victories achieved by the men’s team in the IAAF World Cup. “Every year many new African stars emerge and it is appropriate that we should acknowledge the continent’s regular individual and team successes.”

An Ethiopian obsession that runs deep

Ethiopia is staging its first major international athletics event - the African Athletics Championships - giving sports fans a rare chance to see close up the athletes carrying the country’s hopes for glory at the Beijing Olympics. The BBC’s Alex Capstick went to Addis Ababa to investigate why running is Ethiopia’s national obsession.It’s 0630 as runners gather in the forests overlooking Addis Ababa. There’s not a breath of wind, and at an altitude of more than 3,000 metres the air is thin.

These are considered perfect training conditions for endurance runners, and virtually every day of the year thousands of them pitch up here and spend an hour or two pounding the rutted dirt tracks.

Getaneh Tessema is in charge of the group I’m with and says he chooses the area because “it is very quiet, it is not so hilly, flat, and you know running in the forest is fantastic, we like it”.

Every morning in the heart of Addis Ababa knots of runners are strung out over the cracked steps of Meskel Square

He has spent the last decade on the lookout for future champions and his current group includes members of the Ethiopian marathon team.

“The runners are mostly from the countryside, and in the countryside most children they go to school on foot - like every day five, 10 kilometres, and you know, nobody knows that, but that’s training.

“Ethiopians are light and are also hard-working and they like to fight - and I think that’s the reason why they are so good.”

Dream of glory

Ethiopia’s obsession with running can be traced back to 1960, when the barefooted Abebe Bikili was a surprise winner of the Olympic marathon in Rome.

The success of Ethiopian athletes continued. Haile Gebrselassie remembers listening on his father’s radio to events at the Moscow games in 1980, when Miruts Yifter won two gold medals.

“I was seven, I had a chance you know to follow his winning. I wanted to be like a Miruts Yifter and my dream was to be like him.”

Haile Gebrselassie is now considered the finest distance runner of all time.

His collection of honours includes two Olympic 10,000 metre titles and multiple world records. He’s idolised in Ethiopia, the busy road I’m standing on is named after him. And everybody wants to be like Haile.

“It’s amazing when they follow the good steps of Haile Gebrselassie. Let them follow my good things the next generation has to improve”

‘Women stay in home’

The Entoto Mariam church is located in the hills above the capital. It is in another area frequented by groups of runners, and world and Olympic medals have been deposited in the church museum.

My guide tells me Ethiopia’s deeply religious athletes promise to leave them here, or in other places of worship, on display for everyone to see. Among them is one won by Derartu Tulu.

She became the first black African woman to claim an Olympic title when she was first in the 10,000 metres at the Barcelona Games in 1992. Her performance proved to be an inspiration to other women in Ethiopia.

They include the reigning Olympic 5,000 metre champion Meseret Defar who I went to meet at her villa in Addis Ababa.

Like Derartu Tulu, she’s been a role model to young women seeking a life outside the traditional confines of the home, although the effect hasn’t been the same across the country.

“The women stay in the house,” she says. “For a woman in Ethiopia, running is very difficult. In Addis Ababa no problem, it is very good but outside the woman she only work in house or is going to the school - everything is for men.”

Every morning in the heart of Addis Ababa knots of runners are strung out over the cracked steps of Meskel Square.

Most of them dream of progressing to the national stadium, just a short distance away.

But first they must grab the attention of one of the top coaches.

Competition is fierce, and the deep well of running talent in Ethiopia shows no sign of drying up.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Spotlight on the hosts as African Championships set to begin in Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Just as Kenya dominated the World Cross Country Championships on home ground in Mombasa last year, so Ethiopia is expected to take the majority of medals in the middle and long distance events when it hosts the African Athletics Championships for the first time, beginning here tomorrow.

As Haile Gebrselassie, the most popular athlete in Ethiopian athletics history, put it today, when visiting the Addis Ababa Stadium as it underwent final preparations: “There are very few chances for the rest of the Africans because the Ethiopians are running in front of their own people in the stadium they do their training in every day.”

Free entry is expected to swell the crowd to a near-capacity 25,000 on most of the five days of competition. Gebrselassie, while confirming that he was aiming to run in the 10,000m at the Beijing Olympics, rather than Marathon, at which he is the World record holder, is not competing but he expects to be applauding a succession of home winners.

Defar, Dibaba and (maybe?) K. Bekele lead the hosts

Among those billed to appear are Ethiopia’s so-called ‘Golden Trio’ of the track, comprising Kenenisa Bekele, Meseret Defar and Tirunesh Dibaba. Confirmation of their participation was still being awaited amid eve-of-opening day murmurings that Bekele, the World and Olympic 10,000m champion, would not compete.

According to coaching sources, Bekele feels that he is not ready for a 10,000m only four weeks after regaining his IAAF World Cross Country title in Edinburgh. He would prefer to defend the 5000m title he won in Bambous, Mauritius, in 2006 but the coaches are said to be reluctant to change selections at this stage.

Defar, the IAAF world female athlete of 2007, opens her 2008 outdoor season in defence of her African 5000m title. It is hard to see her being beaten, given the extension of last year’s form into this year. She set a two miles world indoor best in January and took a third consecutive IAAF World Indoor 3000m gold in March.

The most likely challenger to Defar is her fellow Ethiopian, Meselech Melkamu, who was runner-up behind the Olympic and World 5000m champion in the World Indoor 3000m. Typical of the Kenyan entry for many events at these championships, Ethiopia’s arch rivals field a weakened team.

Despite ailments during both races, Dibaba emerged from the 2007 World Championships, in Osaka, and the 2008 World Cross Country, in Edinburgh, with gold medals. In Osaka she won at 10,000m after stomach pains forced her to drop back and she triumphed in Edinburgh after falling behind with stitch.

Here Dibaba will be hoping for a trouble-free ride and, as is the case with Defar in the 5000m, her closest challenger is likely to be a compatriot. Mestawet Tufa, having won the 10,000m at the All Africa Games in Algiers in July, dropped out in Osaka but restored her reputation by finishing second to Dibaba in Edinbugh.

Should Kenenisa not line-up in the 5000m, his younger brother, Tariku Bekele, will be charged with the task of keeping the title in the family. He has performed such a feat once already this year, taking his first senior global gold medal in succeeding Kenenisa as World Indoor 3000m champion.

Kenya favoured in Steeplechase, 800m

It is in this event, though, that Kenya appears to have a rare chance of success as stars such as Brimin Kipruto, Ezekiel Kemboi, Eliud Kipchoge and Janeth Jepkosgei give the championships a miss. They field Isaac Songok, who has yet to transfer his Grand Prix form into senior championship success, and Kiprono Menjo, the 2007 All Africa Games runner-up.

Other events in which Kenya may strike back at Ethiopia are in the men’s 3000m Steeplechase, with Richard Matelong, Michael Kipyego and Willy Komen, the women’s 3000m Steeplechase, with Ruth Bosibori, Lydia Rotich and Mercy Njoroge, and the men’s 800m, with David Rudisha and Asbel Kiprop.

The absence of Sudan’s Abubaker Kaki from the 800m – the World Indoor, All Africa Games and Pan Arab Games champion is contesting only the 4x400m – will likely come as a relief to Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, of South Africa. Mulaudzi had to settle for silver behind Kaki in the 2007 All Africa Games and 2008 World Indoor Championships.

Should Kenenisa not line-up in the 10,000m, and given the absence of Osaka runner-up Sileshi Sihine, home hopes would perhaps depend on newly-crowned junior World Cross Country champion and World Junior 25-lap champion Ibrahim Jeilan.

Fasuba the class of the sprint fields

As strong a favourite as any of Ethiopia’s ‘Golden Trio’ would be is Nigeria’s Olusoji Fasuba in the men’s 100m. Fasuba is clearly Africa’s top sprinter, having won the All Africa Games 100m, finished fourth in the World Championships, and won the World Indoor 60m title in the last nine months.

While Ethiopia and Kenya will leave few medals for other nations in the middle and long distance events, Nigeria, Ghana, Botswana and South Africa should dominate the sprints while South Africa and Egypt should be strong in the field. South Africa’s team of nearly 70 athletes should compete with Ethiopia to top the medals table.

David Powell for the IAAF

Ethiopia vs Kenya duel centre stage as continent's stars chase glory

It is difficult to look beyond East Africa for winners of the 5,000 and 10,000 metres races as the 16th Africa Athletics Championships start today at the Addis Ababa Stadium.

(Left to right): Ethiopia’s Belaynesh Fekadu, Meselech Melkamu and Stiashu Hutra work out at the Addis Ababa Stadium ahead of the Africa Athletics Championships that start Wednesday in the Ethiopian capital. Photo/MOHAMMED AMIN
But, no doubt, it is the duel between Kenya and Ethiopia that will excite the fans most.

The home crowd will have its eyes on Olympic and world 5,000m champion Meseret Defar as she seeks the defence of her 5,000m African title.

Compatriot Meselech Melkamu, who is the world indoor 3,000m silver medallist and two-time world cross country bronze medallist, will also be in the mix.

Kenya will field a weakened team led by national cross country champion Grace Momanyi and could disrupt the home nation’s plan for a clean sweep.

Two-way battle

A thrilling two-way battle should ensue in the men’s 5,000m between long distance heavyweights Ethiopia and Kenya. Tariku Bekele finally won his first senior global title when winning 3,000m gold in Valencia this year, while compatriot Abraham Cherkose alleviated himself to bronze in the same event.

Kenya’s fightback will be led by international circuit specialist Isaac Songok who despite his prominence in the international circuit has yet to achieve major championship triumphs.

All Africa Games silver medallist Kiprono Menjo will also hope to go one better and repeat his victory over Tariku in July last year.

The men’s 10,000m should be a walk in the park for one-time Olympic, three-time world 10,000m champion, and world record holder Kenenisa Bekele in his title defence.

Bekele has not competed domestically since winning the national 5,000m in May, 2004, and will make a long overdue appearance at the Addis Ababa stadium.

Unlike other major championship races, Bekele will not be chased by compatriot Sileshi Sihine who finished second behind his compatriot in each of the last three major championship finals.


Sihine’s absence has paved the way for world junior 10,000m champion Ibrahim Jeylan and national champion Eshetu Wondimu to do the Bekele-chasing.

The women’s 10,000m is also expected to be an Ethiopian affair. Double world champion Tirunesh Dibaba has fully recovered from the stomach pains that blighted her performances earlier this year.

But she faces the challenge of All-African Games champion Mestawet Tufa, who will be desperate to make up for a dropping out in the final at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka.

Grace Momanyi could double in the 10,000m for the Kenyan team which also had Lucy Kabuu in its ranks.

In the men’s 3,000m steeplechase, Willy Komen will return to continental action this year as he hopes to make up for the disappointment of failing to reach the world championships last year. His main challenge is expected to come from compatriots Richard Mateelong, world championships bronze medallist, former world junior champion Michael Kipyego as Kenya seek a clean sweep of the medals.

A few years ago, that would have been taken for granted.

But in the last two years, archrivals Ethiopia have slowly started to disrupt some of Kenya’s medal ambitions.

A possible distraction to Kenya’s podium clean sweep could come in the shape of Ethiopia’s national champion Nahom Mesfin.

The 19-year old, who is in his final junior year, won bronze at the All-African Games and is the national champion and junior record holder.

World junior record

Kenya’s dominance also extends in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase.

Last year, Ruth Bisibori made easy work out of beating Ethiopian Mekdes Bekele at the All-African Games, but even failed to make it to Kenya’s team for Osaka.

Instead, she smashed the world junior record over the event later in the year and earned the 2007 IAAF Newcomer of the Year.

However, Bisibori was handily beaten at the Kenyan national trials by Lydia Rotich, who is included in the squad, while former African junior champion Mercy Njoroge should help Kenya’s hopes of a clean sweep.

Rivals Ethiopia will have Mekdes Bekele leading the battle over the barriers.

The 25-year old, who is an All-African Games silver medallist and two-time national champion, will be joined by Zemzem Ahmed and Sofia Assefa.

Many surprises

The men’s 800m field has everything - youth, experience, revenge, comebacks, and hopefully many surprises. The youth is provided by Sudan’s world indoor champion Abubaker Khamis Kaki who is the toast of his country and the world of middle distance running.

Experience and revenge is provided by South Africa’s Olympic 800m silver medallist Mbulaeni Mulaudzi who is keen to avenge his defeat to Kaki in Valencia. He is the most experienced runner in the top field having starting international athletics in 2001.

The surprise component of this event could well come from Kenya’s reigning world and African junior champion David Luketa Rudisha who is one of the most fluid 800m operators in the continent.

Rudisha, who deliberately missed the All-African Games and the world championships last year, has been saving himself for the 2008 season and could surprise the field. (Addis2008)

Monday, April 28, 2008

IAAF President arrives in Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia April 28, 2008 (ENA) - The President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Lamine Diack on Saturday evening arrived in Addis Ababa to attend the opening ceremony of the 16th CAA African Athletics Championships in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Diack (SEN), who is the honorary president of the CAA, will also attend the African Athletics Hall of Fame Gala at the Sheraton Addis on Tuesday evening and will preside over the CAA Council Meeting a day earlier on April 28th.

The IAAF has contributed generously towards the staging of the 16th CAA African Athletics Championships by funding the construction of a warm-up track, rental of timing and results management equipment, and providing competition grants.

Other dignitaries expected in Addis Ababa for the opening ceremony and African Athletics championships include IAAF Senior Vice President Sergey Bubka, Vice President Dahlan Al Hamad, European Athletics Association (EAA) President Hansjorg Wirz, North American and Caribbean Athletics Confederation (NACAC) President Teddy McCook, and Confederation of African Football (CAF) President Issa Hayatou.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Russian Irina Timoveyeva sets record at Hamburg Marathon

HAMBURG, Germany — Irina Timoveyeva won the Hamburg Marathon in record time on Sunday.

The 38-year-old Russian finished in two hours 24 minutes 14 seconds to break the Hamburg record shared by Robe Tola of Ethiopia and Katrin Doerre-Heinig of Germany by 21 seconds.

Many runners struggled to cope with the warm weather as temperatures reached 22 C.

"It was very hard, but the spectators helped me along," Timoveyeva said.

Pamela Chepchumba of Kenya was second in 2:28:36, with Roba Ashagigi of Ethiopia third in 2:29:28.

In the men's race, David Mandago of Kenya won in a personal-best time of 2:07:23 to end the four-year reign of Spanish runner Julio Rey. Wilfred Kigen of Kenya was second in 2:07:48, followed by Tariku Jufar of Ethiopia in 2:08:10.

Rey faded to 16th place.

The German runners failed to join Irina Mikitenko - who won the London Marathon two weeks ago - with fast enough times to qualify for the Olympics.

Kenyans set to conquer Africa in Ethiopia

The national team to the 16th Africa Championships in Athletics left for Addis Ababa with a promise to get the job done at the home of their fiercest rivals.

"So far, we have trained well and have no injuries to report. Everyone is ready to go to war and we have an experienced team that will go there to fight," team captain and 2001, 1500m World Youth Champion, Isaac Songok, said at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Sunday.

The 40-strong team accompanied by 13 officials left aboard an Ethiopian Airlines flight for Addis Ababa.

"We hope to return in glory because our discipline has been very high and we are all motivated," Songok, who will be the major medal hope in 5000m said.

The athlete who missed the national team to the World Cross Country Championships in Edinburgh last month after he was dropped from the preliminary squad, promised to atone for the disappointment at the continental event.

"It will be my first African Championship and being an Olympic year, I am aiming to do well so that I qualify for Beijing," said the athlete who has also appeared in two World Championships (Paris and Helsinki).

Team head coach, Julius Kirwa, remained optimistic that the team, considered to be the country’s B side, would compete favourably with the hosts who have all their big guns waiting to pounce.

"We are ready and the athletes are very determined. I have a team that has runners from 100m to the javelin and I expect medals in all events," he said.

The send-off accorded to the team was lacklustre considering. The Government minister who handed them the Kenyan flag was not even expected in the first place.

Transport minister, Chirau Ali Mwakwere, was enroute somewhere else but chanced on the team, smartly decked in black suits and promptly assumed the role of officially seeing it off.

"I am happy to hear that you have prepared well and I believe that you are the best athletes in the world. Ethiopia is located in high altitude, but conditions are similar to Nairobi so you should cope well," Mwakwere said.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Organization for the 16th African athletics championship at the final chapter

Organization for the 16th African athletics championship currently at the final stage, Ethiopian athletics federation announced the twenty four national athletes to represent the nation. In a press conference held at Ethiopian Millennium secretariat office all time world great athletes Haile Gebreselassie, Millennium secretariat director Seyoum Bereded and main sponsor of the event Nova Africa stated that hosting the continent's biggest athletics event is a real test for Ethiopia and every single citizen must get ready to play a part in helping the event achieve success.

The continental event brings together more than 43 out of 50 African nations and represented by more than 2000 athletes ready to battle in 24 different disciplines. The host nation Ethiopia takes part in nineteen disciplines out of which 80 percent success is expected in short and middle distance show downs. According Ato Dube Jilo athletics federation technical head, in addition to some minor finishing touches surrounding the stadium many works are already done and in the final stages. Even the installments of state of the art athletics sport equipment like photo finish and giant screens are ready for action.

"In addition to an award ceremony at Sheraton Addis for 54 African all time great athletes, twenty four-star hotels to accommodate the visitors, referral Black Lion and Bete Zata hospitals are on stand by for any emergency" stated Ato Getahun GebreGiorgis, the 16th African nations athletics championship organizing committee coordinator.

Two time woprld athlete of the season Kenenisa Bekele led the ten thousand meter squad that comprises of Seleshi Sehen, Ababe Dinkesa, G/Egziabher G/Mariam, Tadesse Tola and Habtamu Fekadu. The 5000 meter squad is spear headed by Tariku Bekele and brings together Abraham Cherkose,Bekana Daba, Ali Abdosh, Markos Genete and Demsew Tsega.

Reigning world best athlete of the season Meseret Defar leads the way to Ethiopian women's 5000 meter squad with Meseletch Melkamu,Koreni Jelila, Sule Utara, Aselefech Mergia and Workitu Ayano. Olympic and world champion trunesh Dibaba spear head the 10000 meter squad that comprise Ejgayehu Dibaba, Mestwat Tufa ,Wude Ayalew, Genet Getaneh and Teiba Erkesso. The four day event is the biggest ever atletics championship in Ethiopia and takes place from May, 1-4, 2000.

Destination unknown, Ermias flys to Europe

Ermias Yohannes, the defender who joined Ethiopian Coffee at the start of the new season left to Europe unannounced a fortnight ago.

Formerly with Ethiopia Banks FC, Ermias had been one of recently sacked Coffee head coach Kifle Boltena’s major signings of the new season pocketing ETB 35,000 for two years contract.

However frustrated for the late start of the premier league new season followed by the side’s disappointing result the former Bank’s defender processed his visa to Europe with out the knowledge of Coffee and unknown destination.

One of the very few talented youngsters discovered by Youth Soccer Project, Ermias joined and grew up through Ethiopia Banks’ FC ranks before he moved to Coffee after eight years service and captaincy of the senior side. Played at all levels with the Ethiopian national sides including the Olympic side, the no nonsense defender had been one of the regular players of the Seychelles traveled national junior side under the late Mekuria Asheber.

“He would have been one of the all times best defenders in Ethiopia had he not joined Coffee under head coach Kifle Boltena. When Coffee suddenly decided to sack Kifle in the middle of chaotic situation, Ermias taught it is time to pursue his long time dream of traveling abroad and try his luck in foreign football.” said his long time friend and Bank’s team mate Getu. Though Coffee is his childhood dream team Ermias failed to tell his travel to Europe in fear of a demand from the club to pay back the transfer fee. said Getu full of confidence that his friend would pop up some where in Europe soon.
Former Ethiopia Banks skipper Ermias Yohannes.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cheruiyot Shows Grace Amid Unrest

Jeff Jacobs

April 22, 2008

BOSTON — Their names are Cheruiyot, Tanui and Ndeti. Those are mere aliases for these Boston Marathon champions. They are in reality Serenity, Modesty and Grace.

Athletics can be a loud, violent pursuit. Athletic competition is nothing if not a game of perpetual collision and, as the years wear on, one of unending bluster. There is the crash of bones, crash of vehicles, crash of wood against ball and, invariably, the crash of chest-bumping bravado.

And then there are the Kenyans.

Like Sandburg's "Fog," they come on little cat feet.

The Kenyans arrive in packs, yet they run without sound. Do their feet even touch the ground? You wonder. They barely leave a footprint. To watch the Kenyans run 26.2 miles is to understand tranquillity. They are Walden Pond on two willowy reeds.

A Kenyan finished first at Boston for the 16th time in 18 years Monday, yet they remain the most gracious of winners. Their idea of a boast is a broad smile from under a champion's wreath.


That was Robert Cheruiyot's one-word answer, and it remains the Kenyans' answer whenever they're asked how it is to win another marathon.

If the portrait of athletic peace ever were to be commissioned by the United Nations, it would be a small pack of Kenyans running through the highlands of their African home. Smiling, yes, smiling as they run.

And that's what has made the violence in Cheruiyot's homeland this year — this Olympic year — all the more disturbing. Kenya has been a nation of civility on an often brutal continent. Yet more than 1,000 Kenyans, including two prominent athletes, have died in the unrest stemming from a disputed — rigged is probably the more appropriate word — presidential election. Tribal conflict set the Kikuyu against the Luo. More than 300,000 Kenyans were displaced.

On Monday, Cheruiyot became the fourth man to win the Boston Marathon four times. Bill Rodgers is the only other one to have done it in the past half century. Cheruiyot set a blistering pace, and he finished off the field by running the 19th mile through the hills in an ungodly 4:37. His goal was 2:07. He would run 2:07:46. Without a soul to challenge him, he finished 32 seconds off the course record he set in 2006.

"I am not disappointed," Cheruiyot said.

Lance Armstrong, the greatest cyclist in history, ran his third marathon. After a 2:50:58 in his first at Boston, he recounted the unrelenting toll of running up and down the series of hills from miles 18 to 21.

"You never have that pain and pounding on the bike," Armstrong said.

And Cheruiyot?

"I enjoy the hills," he said.

Ibrahim Hussein, Cosmas Ndeti, Moses Tanui, Lameck Aguta, Joseph Chebet, Elijah Lagat, Rodgers Rop, Timothy Cherigat, Cheruiyot ... nine different Kenyans have won since 1991, essentially making the world's oldest marathon Nairobi on the Fens. Yet the hard truth is the more the Kenyans win the less the Boston Marathon becomes a marquee competition in New England. It has become more a participative event like the Fourth of July parade.

Talk radio was focused elsewhere Monday. Boston's print cleanup hitters weren't on hand, either. It's understandable. The Sox were at Fenway. The Celtics and Bruins are relevant again and the Bruins had a Game 7 in Montreal. The Canadiens had kicked away a 3-1 series lead. No city is more passionate about its team than Montreal, and goalie Carey Price, who had allowed four goals in both of the previous two games, was either going to be Ken Dryden or left out to dry. (He would be Dryden.)

The ultimate pressure, right?

Maybe not.

How about the threat of being attacked by an angry mob? How about having those peaceful, training roads of Kenya turned into killing fields?

Maybe most fans in New England don't see it this way, but I would argue the most compelling Boston sports figure this week is Cheruiyot. If athletes are to be more than a W or an L, if athletics is to be more than somebody shouting about a point spread, well, the great beauty of sport is that it can help throw the covers off injustice and expose needless violence. It can be an agent of change.

Before the London Marathon, world champion Luke Kibet talked about how on Dec. 30 in his hometown of Eldoret he had stopped to help a man who had been shot and he was struck unconscious when hit by a rock.

"When I was in hospital," Kibet told Reuters, "I was scared. I knew Kenya is now a bad place."

Kibet would count himself as blessed. Lucas Sang, a 1988 track Olympian and an official for the National Association of Kenyan Olympians, was hacked to death and his body burned by a mob that had just killed 50 people in a church.

Wesly Ngetich, who won the Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minn., in 2005 and 2007, was killed in January when shot in the chest by an arrow. Ngetich reportedly was trying to mediate a dispute and had just helped an 8-year-old boy who had been hit by an arrow.

The independent International Crisis Group has cited sources that assert that wealthy Kenyan athletes have served as benefactors for militias. Athletics Kenya, the country's sports governing body, has denied the accusations and other neutral observers have suggested that athletes, under duress, may have provided food or transportation but are not involved in fostering violence.

Half of Kenya subsists on less than a dollar a day and it has a fascinating relationship with its elite runners. There is much pride in their performance and, in some cases, much envy of their relative riches.

Former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan helped broker a power-sharing deal in February between president Mwai Kibaki and prime minister Raila Odinga, and that has quelled most of the violence. Last week 14 people were killed during a protest, and it remains an uneasy alliance.

Adequate translation remains a problem at Boston Marathon press conferences. The Kenyans also are careful about what they say. Afraid of reprisals? Ordered by authorities who could keep them from going to the Olympics not to say too much? Don't know.

What we do know is on Monday Robert Cheruiyot would hear the Kenyan national anthem played in celebration of his victory.

"I was not thinking about what has happened," Cheruiyot said. "When something happens you have to forget. I just want peace."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Making the grade in Boston doesn’t carry the same prestige among the international competitors once they return home.

Despite their fantastic efforts yesterday in the 112th Boston Marathon, none of the top-three finishers in the women’s open division was assured of a slot on her respective national team for the upcoming Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Dire Tune of Ethiopia produced a furious kick on the lower end of Boylston Street and finished at 2 hours, 25 minutes, 25 seconds, to edge Russian challenger Alevtina Biktimirova, who came in second at 2:25:27. Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo, the 2006 women’s winner here, placed third with a time of 2:26:34 on the most difficult course of the World Marathon Majors collection.

Tune, 22, is a rising star in Ethiopia. But she was unsure if a prestigious win in Boston would carry her to the streets of Beijing.

“I’m not sure if I am qualified,” Tune said through a translator. “Only three runners (from Ethiopia) will participate in Beijing, and I will only know after my return (home).”

Biktimirova came up on the short end of the closest women’s race in Boston Marathon history. She was in an equally precarious position regarding her standing with the Russian decision-makers for the Olympics. The Russian coaches already have filled two of the marathon openings, leaving Biktimirova and last year’s Boston winner, Lidiya Grigoryeva, in the mix for the third and final spot.

Yesterday, Grigoryeva fell off the pace after the 16-mile marker and finished ninth in 2:35:37.
“I ran a pretty good time today, but cannot say whether I will be part of the Olympic squad right now,” Biktimirova said through an interpreter.

“It will be the decision of the Russian Olympic Committee or the Russian Track Confederation. I really hope they decide to put me on the team. I want to take part in the Olympic Games.”
Jeptoo, 27, is in the prime of her career, and she has wins at Boston, Milan and Stockholm on her resume. But Kenya is a hotbed for distance running, and she is just one of many options.

“In Kenya, there is a lot of competition, and it is hard for a woman to go to the Olympic Games,” Jeptoo said. “It is too early to say if I go or anyone else goes. I was happy to be No. 3 in Boston.”

Monday, April 21, 2008

Ethiopian Bound Team Jets Out

Rwanda's athletes to this year's 16th edition of the African Senior Athletics Championship due in Ethiopia departs this evening to undergo an eight-day intensive training in Addis Ababa.

The seven man team departs for Addis Ababa aboard Ethiopian Airways for a training stint which is bankrolled by the Confederation of African Ministries of Youth and Sport. The team includes; Sylvain Rukundo(10000m), Cyriaque Ndayikengurikiye(5000m), Musa Bizimana(400m), Jean d'Arc Uwamahoro(800m), Sophia Kanakuze(200m) and Angelline Nyiransabimana(10000m) and Emmanuel Habiyambere(Coach) respectively.

The continental body has offered to take up the initiative of facilitating Rwanda's team as well as other French speaking countries to a two-week residential training in preparation for the championship due on April 30th.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Top female finishes Sun Run in under 40 minutes

Gary Kingston, Vancouver Sun

Published: Sunday, April 20, 2008

VANCOUVER -- It was the slowest Sun Run 10K for elite women since 1991, but the top finishers still had reason to celebrate and feel warm inside Sunday on a cool morning on the streets of Vancouver.
Genet Gebregiorgis, running competitively for just the second time since taking four years off because of a heel injury, became the second consecutive winner out of Ethiopia by crossing the line in 33 minutes, 35 seconds.
"Very good . . . because I stop running for my injury. I'm injured here," said Gebregiorgis, pointing to her right heel. "Second time [racing] after four years.
"So I am very happy to win this competition," added the 25-year-old, who lives in Maryland with her boyfriend, a soccer player.
In her limited, fractured English, Gebregiorgis was unable to detail the exact nature of injury except to say "maybe too much road racing."
She said no surgery was required and it was treated with "hot lights" and rest.
"I completely stop. No running."
Her time was nearly three minutes off the course record of 30:55 set by Isabella Ochichi of Kenya in 2006 and the slowest Sun Run clocking since Patricia Puntous of Kelowna won in 1991 in 33:48 on the old course that went around the perimeter of Stanley Park and and did not cross Burrard Bridge onto Sixth Ave. as the current configuration does.
Gebregiorgis, who picked up $3,000 for the win, finished 23 seconds ahead of former Canadian Olympian Lisa Harvey of Calgary, who was delighted to come in second, particularly at the age of 38.
"It's such a tough race, so many good competitors," said Harvey, who has done half a dozen Sun Runs. "I was so happy, I was like 'I'm in second place in the Sun Run! Wow!"
Harvey, who was third last season in 33:40, ran her first Sun Run in 1993 on the old course. Her time of 33:07 that year when she was second to Leah Pells of Vancouver still stands as her best 10K road course clocking.
Harvey, who earned $1,000 as the second-place woman and $2,000 as top Canadian, says she lost sight of Gebregiorgis soon after the start on Georgia St. But she was surprised to find herself within hailing distance in the final couple of kilometres.
"I went by Cheryl Murphy [fourth in 34:14] and Kristy Smith [third in 34:12] and people were saying 'she's 100 yards ahead' and stuff like that. But I was just focussing on the guys ahead of me and trying to stay ahead of everybody else."
With temperatures just above zero on an unseasonably cool April morning, Harvey said she was in her element.
"I'm from Calgary, so I'm used to it. And once you get running and warmed up, it's perfect really. I ran Friday morning at home before it started really snowing there."
Harvey ran two marathons last year and plans to run the Toronto Marathon in late September with a goal of trying to qualify for the 2009 world championships. She needs to run two hours, 43:00 minutes by May of next year to qualify, but her personal best is five minutes off that pace.
"I'm a 10K specialist and the marathon has been a real stretch. I have to keep working on it."
Harvey says she no intention of slowing down as she closes in on age 40.
As for the secret to her competitive longevity: "I think probably a good attitude. And I just like being fit. I just love racing and being fit and being around all these cool people."


Genet Gebregiorgis, of Ethiopia, was the first woman to cross the finish line at the 10-kilometre Sun Run this morning, clocking a time of 33 minutes, 36 seconds.

Lisa Harvey, of Calgary, finished second overall and was the top Canadian in the 24th annual race with a time of 33:58.

The two women were followed by:

Kirsty Smith, Victoria, 34:12

Cheryl Murphy, Victoria 34:14

Edyta Sieminska, Edmonton 35:11

Marilyn Arsenault, Victoria 35:14

Suzanne Evans, New Westminster 35:25

Paula Wiltse, Kingston, Ont., 35:29

Natalie Thompson, Calgary 35:56

Rachel Ruus, Richmond 36:23

Kiptoo breaks 2:10 in Brescia

Brescia, Italy - The sixth edition of the Telemarket Brescia Art Marathon revealed a new name: Benjamin Kolum Kiptoo who took the win in 2:09:23, missing the course record of 2:09:17 set by Mathew Sigei in the first edition in 2003.

The Brescia race has already revealed emerging stars in the past, such as 2006 winner James Kwambai who went on to finish second in Boston in 2007.

Kiptoo, who finished fourth in Brescia last year, showed a very good form in the final kilometres to cross the finish line in 2:09:23, improving his previous PB by three minutes. He ran his previous career best at the Lausanne Marathon on a difficult course in 2:12:24.

A six-man group of Kenyan athletes, led by pacemakers Paul Ngeny Kipkemboi and Paul Lopio Lomol, went through the 10 km mark in 30:53. The leading pack passed the halfway mark in 1:04:55 and 25 km in 1:16:53.

Last year’s Florence Marathon winner Paul Ngeny Kipkemboi, who ran the first 30 km as a test for his next attempt over the Marathon distance in Prague on 11 May, finished his pace making task at 30 km as planned.

After 30 km last year’s Carpi Marathon winner Noah Kiplagat and Kiptoo pushed hard pulling away from the rest of the field. Kiptoo broke away from Kiplagat at 35 km building a gap of about 10 metres when he was well inside a sub-2:10 pace.

Kiptoo ran faster in the second half of the race (1:04:40 from 21 km to the end) and in the 38th km he was 200 metres ahead of Noah Serem Kiplagat. He ran the final kilometre in 2:57 which enabled him to smash the 2:10 barrier.

Kiptoo trains in the same group as last week’s Flora London Marathon winner Martin Lel and is guided by Claudio Berardelli.

“I knew that Benjamin was in good form,” said Berardelli, who also guided Janeth Jepkosgei to the 800m World Championships title in Osaka last year. “I think that he can run 2:08 against a stronger opposition. Brescia may be a springboard event for him. A friend of Martin Lel introduced him to my training camp.”

“I did not expect this fast time at all but I knew that my training was going on well,” Kiptoo said. “I hope that I will be able to run faster in my next race. The course was not very hard. I realized that I could win at 38 km.”

Ornella Ferrara won the women’s race in a new course record of 2:34:47 after running alone in the lead from the beginning, but missed the 2:30 qualifying time for the Olympic Games in Bejing. Ferrara, a former World Championships bronze medallist in Gothemburg 1995, was assisted for most of the race by her husband Corrado Bado (a 2:20 Marathon runner). Ferrara, who celebrated her 40th birthday on Thursday, passed the halfway mark in 1:16 running slower than she had hoped for before the race.

“I have a special relationship with the organizers and I hoped to run 2:30 to qualify for Bejing but I felt heavy - legged from the beginning,” said Ferrara. “I had to run faster in the first half. Thanks to the support of my husband and a group of friends I found the strength to finish the race.”

Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF

Leading Results:

Men –
1. Benjamin Kolum Kiptoo (Kenya) 2:09:23
2. Noah Kiplagat Serem (Kenya) 2:11:49
3. Josphat Kipkurui Ngetich (Kenya) 2:17:09

Women -
1. Ornella Ferrara (Italy) 2:34:47
2. Federica Ballarini (Italy) 2:55:20

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Nigeria’s Fasuba and Ethiopia’s Beklele expected at Nairobi meet

Reigning world 60m champion Olusoji Fasuba of Nigeria is among the foreign athletes expected to participate in next month’s Tusker Athletics International meet in Nairobi, Athletics Kenya officials said on Wednesday.

Other big names expected to feature in the event at slated for May 11 at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium are Ethiopian megastars Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba.

Tusker Athletics International local organizing committee chairman, Joseph Kinyua, told the press in Nairobi that they were still awaiting confirmation from Bekele, Fasuba and Dibaba after talking to them at the recent World Cross Country Championships in Edinburgh, Scotland.

"We are still awaiting confirmation from World indoor 60m champion Olusoji Fasub a of Nigeria, Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba whom we talked to them during the world cross country championships in Edinburgh Scotland."

Kinyua said only 45 foreign athletes had confirmed participation in the event, but was happy to note that many local athletes were set for the meet.

Bekele, who is the best long distance runner from Africa, is the reigning World Cross Country senior men 12 km champion.

He has won the event six times and posted his most recent victory at the 30 March, 2008 IAAF Cross Country Championships in Edinburgh, Scotland. He is also a multi-Olympic gold medalist.

Dibaba is the reigning women’s 10,000 m World Champion, she also bagged the women’s long course gold at last month’s World Cross Country Championships in Edinburgh.

She is a cousin of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics gold medalist Derartu Tulu.

Among the Kenyan athletes set for the extravaganza are Janeth Jepkosgei, the reigning women’s 800m World champion and two-time and reigning Kenya Sports Woman of The Year.

Others are Lukas Kibet, former world indoors 800m champion Wilfred Bunge, William Yiampoi, Jackson Kivuva and Joseph Mutua in the men’s challenge.

In women’s challenge will be Faith Macharia and Winny Chebet who have confirmed participation.

Athletics Kenya will use the event, a permit meet, to help Kenyan athletes attain Olympic qualifying standards, ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games trials later in the year.

It will feature seven men’s events and nine in the women’s category at the natio nal level, while at the international level, it will feature seven and five events for men and women respectively.

Kinyua told the press in Nairobi that Athletics Kenya was trying to synchronize the Nairobi meet with similar meets in Doha and Dakar and the Confederation of African Athletics meet in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The meet has been sponsored to the tune of 25 million Kenya shillings (One US dollar=62 Kenya Shillings) by East African Breweries Limited under their flagship brand, Tusker.

Tusker Sports manager Maina Githinji, said out of the amount, Sh 15 million will cater for prizes. Athletics Kenya Public Relations Officer Peter Angwenyi, clarified that the permit meeting will be used by the invited athletes to attain Olympic qualifying times and not a direct ticket to the Olympics.

Those who attain the times will still fight it out in the Olympic qualifier, he said.

"We want to make it straight that this permit meet will only give a few invited athletes the chance to attain the qualifying times and it doesn’t mean that those who hit the qualifying mark will skip the Olympic trials," said Athletics Kenya public relations officer, Peter Angwenyi.

Abel Kirui among group of strong Kenyans, record field with more than 28,000 entries for Vienna City Marathon

The jubilee edition of the Vienna City Marathon looks ready to produce the greatest running event Austria has ever seen. This refers to the elite field as well as the mass race. A group of strong Kenyan runners has been signed for the 25th edition of the race to be held on 27th April. Among them is Abel Kirui, who features a personal best of 2:06:51. Japan’s Tomo Morimoto, who had won the Vienna City Marathon 2006 in a personal best of 2:24:33, will head the women’s field.

Including races at shorter distances and a relay event more than 28,000 athletes have entered the Vienna City Marathon so far. That means a first record is already broken. Never before had race organisers experienced such a strong demand. Last year’s record figure was at 26,249. Online registration is still possible until this Friday at: Subject to availability late entries will be accepted at the marathon fair in Vienna on 25th and 26th April.

Besides his impressive personal best Abel Kirui has another advantage: He knows the course of the Vienna City Marathon since he had placed third here a year ago. In very warm weather conditions the Kenyan had clocked 2:10:41. With that time he was just 34 seconds behind the winner Luke Kibet, who went on to win the gold medal at the Worlch Championships in Osaka a couple of months later. Kirui also did very well later in the year, when he ran his personal best in the Berlin Marathon. Only one famous runner was faster than him: Haile Gebrselassie. With his 2:06:51 Kirui was the sixth fastest runner in 2007.

Such is the quality of the Vienna City Marathon this year that Abel Kirui will not be the fastest in the field. Fellow Kenyan Wilson Onsare has a personal best of 2:06:47. The 31 year-old had achieved this when he was third in Paris in 2003. While Wilson Onsare has run sub 2:10 times a number of times Paul Biwott (2:08:17) and William Rotich (2:09:53) have at least broken that mark once. Rotich had established his personal best when winning the Dubai Marathon in 2007. The 28 year-old had recently shown promising form when he tied his personal best at the half marathon in Berlin (60:12) finishing fourth. Two more Kenyans could do well in Vienna when they start their marathon careers: Duncan Kibet so far has run 60:22 minutes for the half marathon while Philemon Kisang won the famous Stramilano half marathon in 2007 and 2008. His personal best at this distance stands at 60:55.

Monday, April 14, 2008

World record will be mine, says Lel

London, UK - Martin Lel set his sights on Haile Gebrselassie’s World record today just 24 hours after winning his third Flora London Marathon title in one of the greatest marathons of all time.

“It will be up to my manager to decide when and where to do it,” said the 29-year-old Kenyan. “But this victory has given me confidence that I can break the World record.

“I needed to improve my best time and now, after yesterday, I know I can break it. I am very sure, if my manager decides, that I can do it and bring the record back to Kenya.”

Lel not only lowered his own marathon best by nearly a minute and half but also broke Khalid Khannouchi’s 2002 course record, joining Dionicio Ceron and Antonio Pinto as three-time London winners.

The defending champion shrugged off his young compatriot Sammy Wanjiru and Abderrahim Goumri of Morocco in the last quarter of a mile to cross the line first in 2:05:15, 23 seconds inside Khannouchi’s mark, which was a world record at the time.

Wanjiru and Goumri also ran quicker than the old course record as three men went under 2:06 for the first time ever, and six men made marathon history by dipping under 2:07. After going through half way in 62:14, the leaders missed the World 30km record (1:28:00) by only 29 seconds, and seven men remained on World record pace until the 21st mile.

Lel, who looked comfortable throughout despite the record speed, said today that only a cold rain and biting headwind over the last five miles prevented him beating Gebrselassie’s figures of 2:04:26.

“I was thinking we would go under 2:04,” he said. “But the wind and the rain made it hard. My friend Wanjiru is so strong, he can push and push, and I was sure he would take us under the record.

“But the weather was so tough, sometimes I couldn’t see the road because the rain was against us and the wind was hard.”

'We can go under the record here'

Lel said, before yesterday’s race, he didn’t believe London’s rolling, twisting course could produce a World record but the pace on Sunday convinced him the record is possible in the British capital.

“On a course like this it is very hard to run under 2:05,” he said. “But if we have guys like Wanjiru and we run for each other, we can go under the World record here.”

Indeed, Lel said he would prefer to attempt the record as part of a competitive race, rather than in a staged solo run. “I need someone to run with,” said the man renowned for his sprint finish. “The most important thing is the weather, to have medium temperatures, no strong winds or rain, and the course must be good, flat and fast.

“But I have no doubt that if we have a World record in mind, then it’s better to do it together than alone.”

Next stop Beijing!

The next challenge for Lel, who won a total of $130,000 for his efforts on Sunday, is likely to be the Olympic Games in Beijing. The Kenyan federation is due to announce the team next month but Lel received congratulations from Kenyan officials last night and was given a strong indication that he will be selected.

“I hope that I will be in the Olympics,” he said. “In big city races I have been trying to improve my time, but what I am lacking is a big win in a major championships or Olympics.

“I am confident now that I have a chance in Beijing, if not to win, then at least to finish in the top three. Yesterday has given me confidence that I can do something positive at the Olympics.”

Mikitenko is focussed on China too

The Games will now be the main preoccupation of the women’s champion, Irina Mikitenko, too.

The Kazakhstani-born athlete described her first marathon victory as “a special day” after reaping the rewards of some aggressive front-running tactics to become the first German winner since Katrin Dorre in 1994.

“This was only my second marathon but I was able to show that I can run from the front and win from there,” she said after breaking some stiff resistance from Svetlana Zakharova and Gete Wami in the final three miles.

Mikitenko, who lowered her personal best by more than half a minute with a time of 2:24:14, now believes she can go much faster given the right conditions. In Berlin last year, when she was second to Wami, her husband Alex had told her to slow down in the latter stages of the race and yesterday she faced a downpour in as she headed towards the finish after a desperately slow start.

Unlike Lel, who won what was described as an unofficial Kenyan Olympic trial, Mikitenko was already assured of selection for Beijing before the race.

“I could run for experience and without pressure yesterday,” she said. “The Olympics won’t be fast but I know I can run faster in the future. Perhaps I can experiment with a fast race in London next year.”

Lel is also likely to be back, aiming to become the first man to win four London Marathon titles. By then, he might well be the Olympic champion. Who knows, he could be the World record holder too.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Abyu hits gold trail

Tomas Abyu will look to land an Olympic dream on the streets of London today - after escaping a civil war in Ethiopia that killed his father.

Abyu, 29, gained British citizenship in 2005 and if he runs 2hrs 11mins or under in the Flora London Marathon he should secure a place in the team for Beijing.

It would be an incredible story for a runner who has trained with the legendary Haile Gebrselassie yet knew he had no choice but to leave his home.

"My father was a farmer, an innocent person," he said. "He was no politician. It was a very bad time. I just managed to escape."

Abyu, who lives in Manchester, arrived in 1999. He has returned to Ethiopia since and he added: "Haile and I were born in the same region, he is my hero."

GM athletes could break 2hr marathon

FOR more than 100 years, athletes have striven to complete the marathon in less than two hours. Now scientists believe that advances in genetics could lead to a runner completing the 26.22mile course in 90 minutes.

After a series of laboratory breakthroughs they claim that bio-engineering techniques could be used to create a superhuman long-distance runner.

The scientists claim that modifying the human genome could, in theory, increase the size of an athlete’s heart, boost the number of red blood cells supplying the body with oxygen and increase the endurance of specific muscles by up to 10%.

It is widely believed that, without genetic help, athletes are coming close to their physiological limits, despite increasingly sophisticated diets and training regimes. The prospect of superhuman athletes – and other genetically modified sports stars – could allow competition to thrive again.

French academics have claimed that no new sporting world records will be set beyond 2060 as athletes are now using 99% of their physical capacity compared with the 75% used by competitors at the first modern Olympics in 1896.

The possibility of the 90-minute marathon was set out yesterday by Henning Wackerhage, an expert in muscle energy metabolism, at a conference in London hosted by the Royal Society of Medicine.

Wackerhage, a lecturer at Aberdeen University and a former member of the German national triathlon team, pointed to DNA changes that have been introduced into laboratory animals. A “supermouse” at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, has been bred to store sugar more efficiently, allowing it to outrun its rivals.

In other cases, mice have been bred with stronger and larger hearts, almost double the number of red blood cells flowing through the body and with “slow twitch” muscle fibres that improve endurance. If such a genetic change were to be repeated in humans it would allow energy to be delivered to thigh muscles more rapidly.

Wackerhage said: “There has been a raft of genetic developments, each of which has significantly increased performance. If these were combined in a human the boost to athletic ability would be phenomenal.”

Elite athletes usually display some enhanced physical attributes, but genetic modification of an embryo could put an athlete in a different league.

Paula Radcliffe, who holds the women’s marathon world record of 2hr 15min 25sec, is said to have a much bigger than average heart. She regularly trains at high altitude to increase her red blood-cell count. However, she was forced to pull out of the race at the Athens Olympics in 2004, claiming that she was “glycogen-defeated” – in other words, her body was running out of sugar.

The Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie, who holds the men’s marathon world record of 2hr 4min 26sec, is regarded as having rare lung capacity, and muscle fibres perfectly designed for speed and stamina. Yet he has pulled out of the Beijing Olympics because of concerns about pollution.

While many believe Wackerhage’s claim is plausible, Matthew Lancaster, a cardiovascular researcher at Leeds University’s school of sport, said the whole body, not just the heart, may have to be improved. “By increasing the performance of the heart you create a cascading effect where all the other organs have to be modified to cope with the extra pressure,” he said.

Wackerhage admitted that a superhuman marathon runner was merely theoretical and genetic engineering to boost performance “will result in serious complications or death”.

China's dismay

THE Chinese ambassador has said demonstrations against the carrying of the Olympic flame through London had damaged her people’s views of the “gentlemanship” of Britain.

Fu Ying said the “violent” demonstrators during the event last Sunday had reduced young Chinese athletes taking part to tears and caused them to question whether Britain could be the same country that “nourished Shakespeare and Dickens”.

Fu also warned that, as a result of the demonstrations in London, Paris, San Francisco and elsewhere, many young Chinese were reconsidering their “romantic views about the West”.

She added: “In China the western media needs to make an effort to earn respect. Of those who protested loudly, many have probably not seen Tibet.”

Study on genetic modifications of how sugar is stored in the body

More information on London marathon

Lel, Mikitenko win London Marathon

LONDON - Martin Lel of Kenya won the London Marathon for the third time in four years Sunday, setting a course record in the rain and wind on a route that detoured because of a gas leak on a road just over Tower Bridge.

Irina Mikitenko of Germany captured the women's race in only her second attempt at the distance.

Lel outsprinted Sammy Wanjiru to win in a personal best of 2 hours, 5 minutes, 15 seconds. The two Kenyans and Abderrahim Goumri of Morocco had pulled away at 23 miles.

Lel, who also won in 2005 and '07, finished nine seconds ahead of Wanjiru. Goumri was third in 2:05:30 and Ryan Hall was fifth in 2:06:17, the third fastest time for an American.

This was the first time the top three in a marathon finished under 2:06 and the first time in the last 4 1/2 years anyone had run under 2:06 apart from world-record holder Haile Gebrselassie.

"I think what happened today makes me confident of breaking the world record," Lel said. "Despite the wind and rain, we ran a fast time."

The race marked the 100th anniversary of the modern marathon distance. The 26 miles, 385 yards was first run at the 1908 London Olympics, from Windsor Castle to White City.

Mikitenko broke away after 24 miles to win in 2:24:14. She beat Svetlana Zakharova by 25 seconds, with Gete Wami third in 2:25:37. Wami had to make up nine seconds after falling at a drinks station and was limping after she crossed the line.

"I would have liked to run faster. That is why I pushed the pace, because I felt I could run under 2 hours, 24 (minutes)," Mikitenko said. "But, of course, I'm delighted to win."

The detour added two or three yards to the course. It's the first time in the 27 years of the race the course was altered during the run. Organizers said the health of the runners was not affected by the gas leak.

Halfway though the race, the leading men were timed in 61:12 minutes, well inside world-record pace. There were 11 men in that group, including Lel, Emmanuel Mutai, Hendrick Ramaala, Felix Limo Deriba Merga, Samuel Wanjiru, Hall and two pacesetters.

But the fast pace took its toll, with Ramaala, Limo and Hall dropping off at 18 miles, when the two pacesetters also withdrew. Hall ran strongly to claw back nine seconds and rejoin the group by the 21st mile.

Khalid Khannouchi holds the two fastest times overall for an American_ 2:05:38 to take the 2002 London Marathon, which was the previous course record, and 2:05:56 to win in Chicago in the same year.

The leading group dropped off world-record pace in the last 6 miles, hampered by rain. The race produced the best times in a marathon for third, fourth, fifth and sixth.

Mikitenko ran her first marathon in September, when she finished second to Wami in Berlin.

She made her first move at 15 miles, joining a breakaway group containing Wami, Berhane Adere and Souad Ait Salem. They were later joined by Ludmila Petrova, Salina Kosgei and Zakharova.

Wami tripped over a fallen Ait Salem just before the 18-mile mark at Canary Wharf. Wami recovered to make up time and rejoin the pack as Ait Salem fell back.

"I fell on my face," Wami said. "The first thing I did was feel my teeth as I felt like my teeth fell out."

Mikitenko then pulled away at 21 miles, taking Wami and Zakharova with her. Zakharova earned a place on Russia's marathon team for the Beijing Olympics.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Wami will make no mistakes this time

London, UK - World Marathon Majors champion Gete Wami says she will make no mistakes this year when she bids to win her first Flora London Marathon title on Sunday (13 April).

The 33-year-old Ethiopian had to be satisfied with second place in 2007 when she was beaten by the largely unknown Chinese woman Zhou Chunxiu in the last three miles of a gruelling battle under the hottest conditions ever experienced in the 26-year history of the race.

Not that it was the weather that proved to be Wami’s undoing – she was simply surprised by Zhou, a runner she admitted today she had never heard of before.

"I've now run a few marathons but there is always something new to learn from each one,” said Wami. “I didn't know who the Chinese woman was which was a big mistake.

“I had never heard of her. But I've done my homework on everybody for this year's race.”

All-time great

Wami’s glittering track and cross country career in the late 1990s and early 21st century ensures she’s already regarded as one of the greatest women distance runners of modern times

But it’s only in the two years that her performances over 42.195 kilometres have come close to matching the heights of her 19 individual and team medals at World Cross Country Championships and her five medals over 5000m and 10,000m at World Championships and Olympic Games.

Wami won her first marathon in Amsterdam six years ago in 2:22:19, the second fastest debut in history. But she didn’t compete again until 2004 when she made her first outing on London’s streets – an unsuccessful one as it turned out, for she dropped out suffering from hamstring problems.

But Wami is a quick learner. She had a second victory the following year, in San Diego, and in 2006 won her first Major, taking the tape in Berlin in what was then an Ethiopian record, 2:21:34.

Mixed emotions in New York

She also picked up quickly after last April’s “surprise” defeat to Zhou. Wami returned to Berlin at the end of September to retain her title in the German capital and then, just five weeks later on the streets of New York, played her part in the latest chapter of her career-long rivalry with Paula Radcliffe.

The New York marathon was a day mixed with disappointment and joy for Wami as Radcliffe powered away to beat her in the last 400m. But her gutsy second place landed her the inaugural World Marathon Majors crown and a cheque for $US500,000.

"It's still in the bank untouched," said Wami when asked what she had done with the winnings. Of more concern, apparently, is the fitness of the Briton, her old – and perhaps her toughest – rival.

"How is Paula? When will she be fit?" asked Wami of the World marathon record holder and three-times London winner as soon as she arrived in London. "I hoped she would be here as we always have exciting races. When I read that she had pulled out I was extremely disappointed. It would have been a much better race with her competing.”

Radcliffe withdrew from this year’s race last month with a toe injury sustained while high altitude training in USA.

Adere is the principal threat

In Radcliffe’s absence Wami is, perhaps, a marginal favourite for Sunday’s IAAF Gold Label Road Race, but she will still have some tough competition, not least from her compatriot and successor as national record holder, Berhane Adere.

The long-legged 34-year-old is the fastest in the women’s field with a best of 2:20:42, and like, Wami, has something to prove after last year’s race. Adere was pushing the pace alongside the leaders until the half way point but suffered a disastrous second half when she was crippled by right hip and left knee problems.

She eventually finished 10th in 2:39:11. “Last year I finished in such bad pain,” said Adere. “This year I have no injuries and am in really good shape so I expect to do better.

“I have never felt so much pain as last year. I thought I might not be able to finish. I wish I had stopped but I couldn’t because I’ve never dropped out before.”

By the end of the race Adere’s injury was so bad that she feared she’d done permanent damage to her running career. She flew to Germany for treatment, but it took her five months’ to recover.

She started training again in September last year and by the middle of October was fit enough to retain her Chicago marathon title. It was a dramatic victory snatched from Romania’s Adriana Pirtea in the last few metres of a race held in blistering heat.

“That’s when I started to believe in myself again,” said Adere. “Now I am in shape again and ready to put the record right in London.”

Like Wami she has returned to London full of confidence and seeking to make up for past mistakes. Like her compatriot, she’s also considerably richer than a year ago. In January this year she picked up $250,000 for winning the Dubai marathon in a swift 2:22:38 – a good indication of her form for Sunday.

Olympics, the great goal

But money is not the only motivation for the two Ethiopian rivals. Wami makes no secret of her desire to win the Olympic marathon gold in this summer – “That’s my goal for 2008,” she says – while Adere will decide whether to run the marathon or 10,000m in Beijing only after Sunday’s race.

“It will be my decision,” she said. “I am sure I will be there but I don’t know yet whether it will be in the marathon.”

Like Haile Gebrselassie, she admits to being worried about the effects of pollution in the Chinese capital - read IOC statement - Wami is also concerned, although she is determined to be there – not least to enjoy one more tussle with Radcliffe.

"The Olympics are the most important thing for me this year, I will run Beijing," she said. "The conditions will make it very tough, but isn't any marathon race with the different types of courses like that? That is definitely the distance for me and I will not be doing 10000m.

“I hope Paula recovers and is in top condition to race in Beijing. I look forward to racing her again.”

In the meantime, Wami will face Adere in London this Sunday with both Ethiopians eager to make up for last year’s mistakes.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Haile to run 10km in Beijing

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Twice Olympic champion Haile Gebrselassie will run in the 10,000 metres at the Beijing Olympics, he said on Thursday.

Gebrselassie, who suffers from asthma and has pulled out of the Olympic marathon over about pollution in Beijing, will also be the standard bearer for Ethiopia at the August Games.

"As I said, earlier, I would not participate in the marathon event due to my health. But I would certainly run in the 10,000 metres event," Gebrselassie, 34, told Reuters.

"I am the standard bearer and it is my earnest determination to lead my country's athletes at the Beijing Olympics."

He also denied speculation he would boycott the Games, saying such rumours were being spun by "people of ill will against China".

"I respect the leadership and people of that country very much," he said.

In a separate interview, Ethiopian chief athletics coach Woldemeskel Kostre clarified comments made to Reuters through an interpreter on April 1 when he said Gebrselassie was "not ready to run 10,000 metres at the Olympics".

"I did not say Haile would not run in the 10,000 metres event at Beijing. What I said was as long as Haile meets the minimum requirement he would run in the 10,000 metres," he said.

The four times world 10,000 champion retired from the track after finishing fifth in the 2004 Athens final to concentrate on the marathon where he is the world record holder.

Gebrselassie will run in a 10,000 race at Hengelo, Netherlands on May 24 where he will face his compatriot -- the Olympic champion and world record holder Kenenisa Bekele.

Disappointment for Cecafa Region-Musonye

Failure by several regional clubs to progress to the next stage of neither the Champions League nor the Confederations Cup is a big disappointment to the region, Nicholas Musonye has said.

In a telephone interview with Times Sport yesterday from the Kenyan capital Nairobi, the Cecafa Secretary General expressed his disappointment for a bulk of clubs in the region to bow out of the two African championships this year.

Rwanda's APR Fc, Tusker (Kenya), Al Tahrir (Eritrea), Awassa City (Ethiopia), URA (Uganda) and Simba (Tanzania) all failed the test in the more lucrative MTN Africa Champions League.

While similar fate befell clubs like Rayon Sport (Rwanda), Yanga (Tanzania), Harar Beer (Ethiopia) and Express (Uganda) in the Confederation Cup.

However, Cecafa's flag will still flying high at the next stage of the two competitions thanks to two teams from the same country, Al Hilal and El Merreikh (Sudan).

Al Hilal qualified to the last 16 of the African Champions League where they will face Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa while El Merreikh next meets face Zimbabwe's Highlanders in the third round of the Confederation Cup

"We need to work extensively in uplifting the football standards in the region and this will never be reached if we (clubs in the region) continue with such poor performances in continental competitions.

"Early preparations must be emphasized to enable our clubs reach the finals stages of African tournaments," Musonye stated.

For years, most of clubs from this region have failed to get past the preliminary rounds of Africa's top championships. Such disappointments have also spilled over to the national teams.

Sudan was the only country from the Cecafa region that qualified for the 2008 Nations Cup held in Ghana, two years before in Egypt, no team made it while fours back in Tunisia, only Rwanda hoisted the regional flag.

Olympics to 'rebound from crisis'

The head of the International Olympic Committee has said anti-China protests had created a "crisis" but that the Games in Beijing would "rebound".

Jacques Rogge told a meeting of national Olympic committees in Beijing that the Games would succeed.

But Mr Rogge urged China to respect its "moral engagement" to improve human rights ahead of the Games.

China said it hoped the IOC would steer clear of what it called "irrelevant political factors".

"I hope IOC officials can eliminate all kinds of disturbance and continue to adhere to principles of the Olympic charter," foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said.

Political pressure

Demonstrators critical of China's rights record and the recent crackdown on protests in Tibet have disrupted the UK, French and US stages of the Olympic torch relay.

The Dalai Lama - who many Tibetans regard as their spiritual leader - said on Thursday that China deserved to host the Games, but that protesters had the right to express themselves in non-violent ways.

Also on Thursday, members of the European Parliament called on EU leaders to boycott the games if there was no resumption of dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama.

Speaking in Beijing, Mr Rogge said: "This is definitely the biggest crisis ever that the International Olympic Committee has had."

He said Chinese officials had said that awarding the Games to Beijing would help advance social change in China, including human rights.

Mr Rogge said he considered that "a moral engagement... and we definitely ask China to respect this moral engagement".

However, addressing a joint meeting between the Association of National Olympic Committees and the IOC executive board, he said officials should reassure athletes.

"Tell them that they are going to set an example and that the world will be watching them. We have 120 days to achieve that and I am sure it is going to be successful."

In the US, both Democratic presidential hopefuls have called on President George W Bush to consider boycotting the Beijing opening ceremony if China does not improve its human rights record.

"A boycott of the opening ceremonies should be firmly on the table but this decision should be made closer to the Games [in August]," Senator Barack Obama said a day after a similar call by Senator Hillary Clinton.

The US House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed a motion condemning China's "extreme" response to recent protests in Tibet.

A spokeswoman for UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he would not be attending the opening ceremonies, but had never intended to do so and would be at the closing ceremony.


The Olympic flame was lit in Greece on 24 March and is being relayed through 20 countries before being carried into the opening ceremony in Beijing on 8 August.

The threat of protests has meant that torch-bearers have been immersed in a cocoon of security, surrounded by dozens of police officers and Chinese guards in track-suits.

In Paris, the torch had to be extinguished three times because of safety concerns, while in London there were 37 arrests.

The US stage of the torch relay in San Francisco on Wednesday passed off amid confusion and tight security.

Mr Rogge said he had been "saddened' by violent protests in Europe but he believed the San Francisco relay had been an improvement.

"It was, however, not the joyous party that we had wished it to be," he added.

Demonstrators also sought to disrupt the torch relay in Athens and Istanbul, while it passed successfully through Almaty, in Kazakhstan, and St Petersburg, in Russia.

It is due to arrive in the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, later this week.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

37th world cross country in Edinburgh ends with the greatest Ethiopian achievement, Kenenisa, Terunesh, Genzebe, Ibrahim win

The 36th World cross country athletics championship in Edinburgh Scotland turned out to be an all Ethiopian affair despite the presence of thousands from seventeen nations all over the world. Out of twelve individual medals the heroic Ethiopian squad collected seven leaving only five for the rest of the world to scramble for.
King of world-cross country Kenenisa once again showed the world what an undisputed champion he is, overcoming three difficulties; missing his connection flight that stranded him for a full day at Heathrow, an overnight stomach upset and a dislodged shoe in mid race before gobbling up his adversaries. It was the best ever performance second only to the former two time world best athlete Kenenisa only to his hard to believe act in 2004 Athens Olympic 10000 meter race waiting for mentor Hailer G/Selassie at the back despite a Kenyan athlete was in front. While the world was flabbergasted watching Kenenisa left behind kneeled down to secure his dislodged shoes, the Olympic gold medalist as cool as ice, finished the job at hand got up, crossed himself and went back to business that is catching up the flock spear headed by defending champion Eritrean Zeresenay Tadesse and Kenyan Leonard Patrik Komon. Surprisingly it took him sheer determination yet little effort to work up his way back up to the field then join the leading pack. The two Kenyans Komon and Ebuya in witness Zeresenay tried to throw several bursts that ultimately tired him to throw away even second place.
Four kilometers from the finish line the front four were by themselves the two Kenyan pair side by side behind him, Kenenisa stayed a bit longer at the back before seizing his moment and the rest is history. “This is special for me although I am proud of my previous achievements” said Kenenisa after a clear win. Patrick Komon of Kenya came second followed by Zeresenay Tadesse who told reporters that he is happy to win a bronze medal for his country. The day’s victory that also earned Kenenisa USD 30000 took his record number of individual world cross country titles to 12 (6 long, 5short course 1 junior). Five World cross country double and one single gold, Kenenisa is now in history book as all time great World cross country champion.
Olympic and world champion Trunesh Dibaba also joined the history books winning her third World cross country gold medal in Senior Women’s 8 KM race. Back from long rest due to injury Trunesh reclaimed her title in a thrilling way unfurling her trade mark finishing kick at the final 400 meters. It took a few minutes before the 22 year old leapt from fourth to take the lead all the way followed by her compatriot Mestwat Tufa who reached home five seconds later. Kenyan Lenet Masay finished third in 25:18. Inspired by younger sister Genzebe Dibaba’s astonishing victory in Women’s Junior, the elder Dibaba showed a mesmerizing come back to win the day at the same time sharing the record of her cousin two time Olympic gold medalist Derartu Tulu and USA Lynn Lennings who won the long distance in three occasions. She is also a joint record holder with Grete Waitz of Norway in winning World cross country championships five individual gold. All in all Dibaba has now won 14 World Cross Country gold together.
At seventeen the youngest of the three Dibaba’s, Genzebe not only has championship blood in her veins but also emulating the killer smile of her immediate elder Trunesh. The teenager came out of the shadow at Edinburgh after lurking behind the pack for most of the distance then pouncing in front at the final stage then never to look back until crossing the finishing line in 19:59. Kenyan Irene Cheptai tried to catch up to Genzebe but failed for the teenager has already geared up to the limit. Cheptai finished second five seconds later with 18 year old Ethiopian Emebet Etea claiming the bronze. Here comes the third Dibaba to world athletics stardom following in the footstep of her elder sisters Tirunesh and Ejegayehu.
In the Men’s junior 8KM showdown the same surprise story unfurled when 18 year old Ibrahim Jelan muscled out the three year old Kenyan dominancy in the distance. After three consecutive domestic titles Jelan’s dream of winning an international title came true when he stayed behind Ugandan Benjamin Kiplagat and Kenyan Mathew Kipkoech for most of the race then gearing up strong to out run his adversaries. The duo who tried to catch up with him later got out of steam to finally surrender even second place to Jelan;’s compatriot Ayele Abshero. The bronze went to Kenyan Kipkoech.
In addition to the four gold, two silver and one bronze the Ethiopian squad won two group gold medals in Men’s junior and Women’s senior events.

With focus on Beijing, Kiplagat set for track return in Istanbul on Saturday

Two-time World Road Running champion Lornah Kiplagat will return to the track for the first time in nearly a year at this weekend’s 12th European Cup 10,000m in Istanbul, Turkey.

The 33-year-old Dutchwoman bypassed an attempt to defend her World Cross Country title in Edinburgh last month, she said, to focus on this summer’s Olympic Games.

A year ago, Kiplagat’s focus was the 10,000m at the World Championships in Osaka, but a calf injury sustained in May was serious enough to curtail her training and sideline her from Osaka.

But she bounced back in dominating fashion in October to win her second consecutive World Road Running title in Udine, Italy, with a 1:06:25 World record over the Half Marathon course.

After pulling out about midway through the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon with a mild calf strain, her momentum continued at the World’s Best 10K in San Juan where she collected her sixth victory and again in late February with a victory at the Zayed International Half Marathon (1:08:52) where she pocketed a cool $300,000.

Her last appearance over the distance on the track came at the 2006 European Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden, where, after controlling the tempo from the outset, Kiplagat finished fifth in 30:37.26 in what was the fastest and deepest race of that season.

Racing at home, Abeylegesse poses fiercest challenge

But the race in the Turkish capital will be more than merely a chase for the Olympic qualifying standard; indeed it will be a solid competitive test for the Kenyan-born Kiplagat.

Also toeing the line will be Turkey’s Elvan Abeylegesse, the former World 5000m record holder and the reigning World Championships silver medallist at 10,000m.

The 25-year-old Ethiopian-born Turk, who also finished fifth in the 5000m in Osaka, has race only once since, finishing third behind Kiplagat in San Juan. In 2008, Abeylegesse will be looking for her first major global title in Beijing after injury woes have kept her from prime fitness in other appearances. After setting the World 5000m record at the 2004 Golden League opener in Bergen, Norway, injury problems arose which prevented her from not only being a major factor in Athens, but limiting her race appearances to just four low-key races in 2005. At the 2006 European Championships, an Achilles tendon injury forced her to drop out of the 10,000m, but she came back valiantly to take the bronze in the 5000m.

Abeylegesse has competed well at this race, winning each of her two previous appearances. In 2006, she clocked a national record of 30:21.67 –the fastest performance in the world that year—in miserable conditions in Antalya, and last year won by near 35 seconds in 31:25.15 .

The solid women’s field also includes Kiplagat’s cousin Hilda Kibet, who will arrive in Istanbul on the heels of her solid fifth place finish at the World Cross Country Championships. Hungary's Road Race specialist Anikó Kálovics, Portugal’s former Olympic champion Fernanda Ribeiro are also on the slate.

Spaniards atop the men's field

With only three in the field boasting sub-28 minute credentials, the men’s race will provide a key Beijing qualifying opportunity.

Those three all come from Spain, and the trio - Juan Carlos de la Ossa, Ayad Lamdassem, and José Ríos – will start as favourites.

De la Ossa, who set his 27:27.80 career best with his victory in this race in 2005, was the bronze medallist over the distance at the 2005 European Championships, and has kept busy this season on the Cross Country circuit, most recently finishing 24th at the World Championships.

Pacesetters will be provided to assist runners to achieve the Beijing qualifying standards: For men, 'A' standard of 27:50.00 and 'B' standard of 28:10.00; and for women, 'A' standard of 31:45.00 and 'B' standard of 32:20.00

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Kenya's pack leader chasing glory

Despite his young age, Samuel Kamau Wanjiru has already made history by setting the world half-marathon record thrice in two years - and yet has a distinctly un-Kenyan running style.

While most of Kenya's great marathon runners have been characterised by a fluid running style with long strides, Wanjiru runs with his chest arched outwards, hands moving mechanically - and wears a permanent grimace as if to suggest that he is struggling.

But far from it. The 21-year-old athlete is developing into something of a phenomenon.

Wanjiru started running aged 15 in Nyahururu under no supervision, inspired by John Ngugi - Kenya's five-time World Cross Country champion.

He rose to global stardom three years later, when, rather than sweating over his school books, he was sweating on the streets by setting his first half-marathon record.

As a first step in standing out from a crowded Kenyan field, he ran an amazing 59 minutes 16 seconds in Rotterdam, to break Paul Tergat's record which had stood for seven years.

What makes this more remarkable is that he did this only two weeks after setting the then-fastest junior world 10,000 metres time. Both feats sealed for him Kenya's Most Promising Sportsman of the Year title in 2005.

Records smashed

Wanjiru is almost obsessive about turning so-called failure into victory.

When he lost the half-marathon record to Ethiopian legend Haile Gebrselassie in 2006, he came back with a bang - breaking it twice in two months the following year to set a new mark that stands to date.

First he clocked 58 minutes 53 seconds to win the Ras al Khaimah International Half-Marathon in the United Arab Emirates in February 2007, and then a month later - almost as if running against himself - he smashed his own record by running 58 minutes 33 seconds in The Hague's Fortis City-Pier-City Run.

Wanjiru's precocity clearly sets him apart

Anna Legnani, deputy director of communications, IAAF
"It was really fantastic that I was able to regain the world record and bring it back to Kenya," recalls Wanjiru.

"From the 17km mark onwards I tried to go it alone, and as I glanced at my watch after 18km I felt that the world record was within my grasp - and so I went all out for it."

What sets the diminutive athlete apart is his incredible ability to start on and sustain a killer pace throughout a race. This is in contrast to his compatriots who prefer a measured approach with varying speed.

Without question, Wanjiru is no ordinary athlete but there are other things that make him unique in Kenya.

Unlike most elite Kenyan marathon runners, Wanjiru hails from the Central Province, a region that significantly pales in comparison to the epicentre and incubator of the ultimate distance talent - the Rift Valley.

The only other reputable marathon runners from Central Province are two-time World Champion Catherine Ndereba and Olympic silver medallist Eric Wainaina. In contrast, the Rift Valley has produced the likes of Felix Limo, Martin Lel, Tergat, Robert Cheruiyot, Moses Tanui, Tegla Loroupe, Joyce Chepchumba and Susan Chepkemei.

Since 2002 Wanjiru has been based in Japan - after winning a cross-country race organised to scout for talent. He enrolled in high school there and speaks Japanese.

Now he trains under a Japanese coach, Koichi Morishita, who won a marathon silver at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.

First appearance

Morishita has imparted important aspects of marathon running to his young protege by showing him videos and instilling Japanese virtues in him to influence his running style.

Wanjiru will be hoping to beat three-time winner Martin Lel
"He can set a world record in the marathon, but I would like to emphasise winning over achieving a fast time. I like to coach a winner," Morishita has said.

"Wanjiru never gives up during the race. Such characteristics are important for the marathon."

In April, he makes his first appearance in the UK's London Marathon just months after setting a course record when he won his debut marathon in Fukuoka, Japan.

He joins an illustrious and crowded field - with compatriots like two-time champion Lel and 2006 winner Limo.

But Wanjiru has his sights firmly trained on a record time in London.

And Anna Legnani, deputy director of communications at the International Association of Athletics Federations, the sport's governing body, says that Wanjiru has the potential to become one of the greatest ever.

"It is quite exceptional for an 18-year-old athlete to set a world record in the half-marathon," she said.

"In fact, the only other athlete in the All-Time Top 20 lists for half-marathon or marathon who was under 20 at the time of his performance was Tanzania's Faustin Baha. Wanjiru's precocity clearly sets him apart."

Blatter urges Meles to support normalcy in EFF

Joseph S. Blatter, president of FIFA, in his letter last week call upon Prime Minister Meles to help the process of normalization in the Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF) and FIFA's measures to correct the paths chosen by some individuals who did not respect FIFA's decisions.

Blatter said that situations in the EFF worsened at the end of 2007 and at the beginning of 2008 with internal disputes, controversial and disputed general assemblies.

"Upon my personal invitation, FIFA and CAF decided a "roadmap" to bring back normally within the EFF with seven-point elements," he said, adding that unfortunately this roadmap could not be so far implemented due to several factors.

Some of the reasons mentioned by Blatter were reluctance of some members to accept this FIFA-CAF decision in spite of their statutory obligations describe in the Article 13.1 (d) of the FIFA Statues, access to the EFF headquarters till refused the legitimate EFF leadership, among other things.

"This situation has been lingering for months and FIFA and CAF are determined to act to bring back normalcy in the Ethiopian football community, to implement the roadmap and, if necessary take the appropriate sanctions for non-compliance with a FIFA-CAF join decision" he said.

Blatter, who said Ethiopia has a "special position" in his heart called upon Meles' leadership and wisdom to use all the authority bestowed upon his government to support the football infrastructures programme for which FIFA earmarked considerable development funds.

"I am looking forward to a favorable and fast solution to this situation for the good of Ethiopia, Ethiopian football and the youth of country," he added.

Olympics-Radcliffe more concerned about heat than pollution

LONDON, April 8 (Reuters) - World women's marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe has said she is more concerned about heat and humidity at the Beijing Olympics than the Chinese capital's pollution despite suffering from asthma.

Ethiopian men's world record holder Haile Gebrselassie, who also has asthma, withdrew from the Beijing marathon last month because of concerns about the polluted air.

"I need the right dosages of my asthma medication but after that I don't think it's something you can worry about too much," Radcliffe told the BBC.

"It might not even be as bad as everyone thinks because I'm sure the Chinese will do everything they can to reduce the problem.

"We are all dealing with the same thing so I don't think worrying about it in advance is that productive.

"But heat and humidity are a different kettle of fish because they're things you can prepare for."

The 34-year-old Briton pulled out of the 2004 Athens Olympics marathon after 36 km because of a stomach complaint after starting the race as the favourite.

She was due to run in Sunday's London marathon on the course where she set her world record of two hours 15 minutes 25 seconds but has withdrawn because of a toe injury.

Radcliffe confirmed she wanted to compete at the 2012 London Games and said she believed she could better her world mark.

"I want to win another world title and I want to run faster," she said. "On the right day in the right conditions I believe that is possible."

Lady Eagles in Ethiopia

The Charlotte Lady Eagles Ethiopia Tour soccer team kicked off their 2007 Ethiopia tour with a match against an Addis Ababa women's all-star team. The Lady Eagles triumphed in the match with a 3-2 victory.
The Lady Eagles got behind quickly when the Ethiopian team scored their first goal in less than five minutes off of a defensive miscue. The Lady Eagles did not let the early goal affect them and they were rewarded ten minutes later with a goal by Nicole Cauzillo from Kansas University. Nicole hit a shot from the top of the eighteen that beat the keeper on the inside of the left post.

Five minutes later Kelly Schmedes drove down the left wing to the six yard box where she played the ball cross the middle. The Ethiopian keeper deflected the ball out to Alison Becker who slotted her shot past the keeper into the goal to lead the score 2-1.

Approximately ten minutes before the end of the first half, the Ethiopian national team member, Berticam, curled a shot into the top left corner from around 22 yards out to tie the score. The half ended 2-2.

The Lady Eagles fought through fatigue brought on by the high altitude of Addis Ababa (8300 ft) during the second half. With about 15 minutes left to play, Kelly Schmedes took a ball switched from the left side to go one on one with the goalie. The ball got by the keeper but Nicole Cauzillo got her second goal and game winner by sliding in ahead of a defender to finish the shot. The Lady Eagles left the field exhausted but grateful for the opportunity to play this all-star Ethiopian team.

The Lady Eagles arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Wednesday night after leaving Charlotte last Tuesday. The Lady Eagles were invited to Ethiopia by Sports Friends and the Addis Ababa Football Federation. The Lady Eagles spent the first few days visiting the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, the Mother Theresa AIDS orphanage and another orphanage adopted by the US Embassy, as well as doing clinics with another women's team and a youth team. The team expects to play another match next Sunday against another top Ethiopian team.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Barnes on board for Score Ethiopia

Liverpool legend John Barnes has launched Score Ethiopia, a charitable campaign aimed at providing football-based amenities into Ethiopia.

The 44-year-old former England winger is working on a humanitarian mission to improve football facilities in Africa.

"The campaign aims to help promote football in the poorest countries and build better facilities, as well as getting water to the communities and giving local people training and start-up loans to get better jobs."

Barnes travelled to Lalibela, a historic town in the north of Ethiopia to launch a fundraising campaign for a new football stadium, complete with goal posts, corner flags, kits, clean water facilities and a seating arena.

Lalibela is desperately poor with many people surviving on just £1 a week.

Currently, the town's children play football with balls made from rolled-up clothes and their makeshift pitches are dust fields.

Jamaican-born Barnes added: "I travelled to Lalibela to understand what football means to these children. I have been all over Africa and Ethiopia is my favourite country because the people are so friendly.

"We all associate it with famine but I want to show that there is so much more going on here.

"If we can help to raise £25k it will mean so much. You can't give kids a football pitch when they can't afford to eat but this project will help enrich their daily lives too.

"I have always known how powerful a weapon football can be to get people involved. Sadly not many modern footballers recognise that. Football gives people in countries like Ethiopia hope, enjoyment and respite from their daily lives.

"When you see kids with nothing kicking a football around, you recognise how incredible that is. It also helps to build communities because it is a team sport."

Six athletes have qualified for next month's Africa Senior Championships to be held in Ethiopia.

Six athletes have qualified for next month's Africa Senior Championships to be held in Ethiopia.

The athletes won their respective events during the 3rd KCC Athletics Kenya weekend track and field meeting held in Kisii.

Newcomer Millicent Gathoni emerged victorious in the 4000 meters race after beating Chebet Lagat and Joyce Chepkemoi who took second and third positions respectively.

Kipkemoi Soi won the men's 200 metres while the women's race was won by Joyce Zachary followed by Zipporah Ratemo and Getrude Opollo.

Zachary was among 6 athletes who qualified to represent the country at this year's Africa senior championships to be between May 30 and June 4 in Ethiopia.

Others are Monica Otwori and Mumbua Kioko in the 10,000 meters race, David Rudisha in 800 meters, Pamela Jelimo in the 400 meters and Sammy Keskeny in Javelin.

Zewdie prevails and Cheruiyot runs solo over 5km in Carlsbad

Carslbad, California, USA - In a tight race to the finish line, Ethiopia’s Terefe Marego Zewdie edged out England’s Mo Farah to win the men’s race at yesterday’s Carlsbad 5000 in a time of 13:34. Vivian Cheruiyot ran uncontested to the finish in her debut on the oceanside course in 15:14.

American Alan Webb dropped out of the men’s race with approximately a half-mile to the finish.


In a conservative race, Farah, 25, took the men’s pack through the first Mile in 4:25. After the first of two hairpin turns on the course, Farah looked smooth as he quickened the pace. Haron Lagat, 24, from Kenya challenged Farah off his left shoulder as the two men lead the pack towards mile two where the pace dropped to a 4:22 mile.

Tucked in behind the leaders, Zewdie seemed to slingshot around the last hairpin to join the leaders. Farah and Zwedie pushed the pace as the men approached the final stretch, towing Lagat and Australian Collis Birmingham.

With a brief glace to the side Zwedie opened up a one-second lead on Farah before he broke the finish tape.

“The crowd was very encouraging,” Zwedie said. “I knew at the turnaround I would win the race.”

Webb, a Reston, Virginia resident was visibly disappointed with his performance in his first outing at the Carlsbad race. He could not identify a specific problem to explain the reason he pulled up, but injury did not play a role.

”I was hurting,” Webb said. “I was putting in surges just to stay up where I was. As soon as we turned around that second time I was done. It’s the only time I’ve dropped out of a race for no other reason than I was hurting.”

Webb, who was accompanied at the race by his coach Scott Raczko said he has been training hard for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field in June.

“I’m always trying to push deeper and go harder,” Webb said. “It’s in there, I just need to get it out of me. Hopefully this won’t be my last time in Carlsbad. I look forward to coming back and doing better.”


Cheruiyot, the World 5000m silver medallist, was considered the favourite in the women’s race heading into yesterday’s competition and the 25-year-old proved it with her seven second win over countrywoman Rose Kosgei, 26.

The two Kenyans, joined by their mutual friend Genoveva Kigen, dominated the women’s race, claiming the top three positions. Cheruiyot began to steadily pull away at approximately the 1.5-mile mark as the clear winner.

Ian Monahan for the IAAF


MEN - 5km
1. Terefe Maregu Zewdie, Ethiopia, 13:34,
2. Mo Farah, Great Britain, 13:35,
3. Haron Lagat, Kenya, 13:36,
4. Collis Birmingham, Australia, 13:36,
5. Josphat Boit, Kenya, 13:36,
6. Shadrack Kosgei, Kenya, 13:50,
7. Boniface Songok, Kenya, 14:01,
8. Michael Aish, New Zealand, 14:06,
9. Julio Cesar Perez Morales, Mexico, 14:13,
10. Dmitry Safronov, Russia, 14:27,

WOMEN - 5km
1. Vivian Cheruiyot, Kenya, 15:14,
2. Rose, Kosgei, Kenya, 15:21,
3. Genoveva Kigen, Kenya, 15:41,
4. Sara Slattery, United States, 15:59,
5. Korene Hinds, Jamacia, 16:04,
6. Everlyne Lagat, Kenya, 16:08,
7. Kathy Butler, Great Britain, 16:13,
8. Lisa Blomme, Sweden, 16:23,
9. Ida Nilsson, Sweden, 16:36,
10. Jane Kibii, Kenya, 16:41,

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Komu edges out Ethiopia’s Tola to win Paris Marathon

Martha Komu edged out Ethiopia’s Tola Worknesh in a bruising battle for the tape to win the women’s race of the 2008 Paris Marathon in 2:25.33

In the men’s elite event, the Kenya-Ethiopia tussle for top honours ended in favour of Tsegaye Kebede who squeezed past Moses Arusei in the last kilometre to claim victory in 2:06.37.

Komu was more than seven minutes quicker than her previous best of 2:32.45, set at Reims in 2006.

She appeared to be struggling when Tola surged ahead with three kilometres left. But the Kenyan caught up on the home stretch and overtook Tola to win over the final 300 meters.

"I felt I had my chances," Komu told reporters after the race. Compatriot Lenah Cheruiyot (2:26.00) grabbed the last podium place after out-pacing Ethiopia’s Shitaye Gemeshu (2:26.10) in the battle for third.

The 2005 World Cross Country Championships silver medallist, Alice Timbilil, finished fifth in 2:26.45.

In the men’s race, eight Kenyans filled the top 10 places but none could stop Kebede from taking the victory.

Despite rain and wind, the Ethiopian was only four seconds slower than the course record of 2:06.33, set by Kenya’s Mike Rotich in 2003.

Kebede was level with Arusei heading into the final two kilometers but the Kenyan began to tire allowing his rival to break away with about 500m remaining.

"The weather conditions were very hard," the victor said after the race.

Arusei finished second in 2:06.47, while countryman, Hosea Rotich was third in 2:07.10.

Last year’s Stanchart Nairobi International Marathon winner, Samson Barmao, finished seventh in 2:09.01.

Other Kenyans in the top ten were David Kemboi (2:08.34, fifth), Abraham Chelanga (2:08.34, sixth), Paul Kosgei (2:09.15, eighth), Benson Barus (2:09.23, ninth) and David Kiyeng who ran 2:09.23 to finish 10th.

Several runners wore stickers on their race jerseys to protest about China’s crackdown on demonstrations in Tibet. "I run without trampling on human rights," read the sticker’s message in French.

At the finish line, a handful of people waved Tibetan flags or held up signs marked "Jeux de Honte" (Games of Shame).

Africa to honour athletes in Hall of Fame

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) — Africa's top athletes will be honoured in a new African athletics Hall of Fame award to be hosted in Ethiopia later this month, the continent's governing body for the sport said on Saturday.

Seventy-two athletes, including track heavyweights Haile Gebreselassie, Hicham El-Guerrouj and Frankie Fredericks, have been chosen for the inaugural induction set to take place in a tribute gala on the eve of the 16th African Athletics Championships at the end of April.

"The event is meant to pay tribute to the best (African) athletes during the past 50 years," Aminata Gueye, spokeswoman of the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA), told AFP.

Gueye said only Olympic gold medalists, world champions and record holders from the continent are eligible for the Hall of Fame, and plans are also underway to create an exhibition.

"The athletes, both male and female, were selected through their achievements. We went through records three or four months ago and came up with the list," said the CCA's presidential advisor, Jean-Emmanuel Pondi.

Five former greats, including Ethiopia's twice-Olympic marathon champion Abebe Bikila, will also be given posthumous awards, Pondi added.

Over 1,200 participants are expected to compete in twenty-three events during the five-day tournament.

This year's competition, which has cost Ethiopia more than two million dollars to organize, is one of a selected number of international fixtures whereby qualification for the Beijing Olympics can be secured.

Paris marathon wins for Ethiopian Kebede, Kenyan Komu

Paris - Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia won the Paris Marathon on Sunday while the women's race went to Kenyan Martha Komu. Kebede ran away from Moses Arusei of Kenya after the 40-kilometres mark and with a time of 2 hours 6 minutes 40 seconds for the 42.195km race missed the course record by a mere six seconds.

Arusei finished second in rainy and windy conditions in 2:06:50, and fellow-Kenyan Hosea Rotich was third in 2:07:24 hours.

Kenya made up for the men's defeat in the women's race in which Komu won in 2:25:29 from Ethiopians Worknech Tola 2:25:37 and Lenah Cheruiyot (2:26:00).

Several among the 35,000 runners wore stickers on their shirt in protest of China's crackdown of the unrest in Tibet ahead of the Beijing Olympics in August. Other fans were at the finish line waving Tibetan flags and holding up signs saying "Games of Shame."

Bigger protests are expected on Monday when the torch relay for the Beijing Games passes through Paris.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Haile Cancels 10,000m At Beijing Olympics

The Daily Monitor (Addis Ababa)

Addis Abeba

DUAL Olympic champion Haile Gebrselassie will not compete in the 10,000m at the Beijing Games, a UK-based sports news website reported citing Coach Woldemeskel Kostre, dismissing the athletics legend's prospects.

Haile, 34, has already withdrawn from the Olympic marathon because of concerns about pollution in Beijing, but he said he could return to the track and compete in the 10,000m.

The four-time world 10,000m champion retired from the track after finishing fifth in the 2004 Olympics final in Athens to concentrate on the marathon, over which distance he is the world record holder.

"It's very tough for him because he can't compete with the younger men over the 10,000. That's why he has shifted to the marathon," Fox Sports News quoted Woldemeskel.

The report said Dr. Woldemeskel was speaking at a reception "for the all-conquering Ethiopian cross-county team" at Leeds Metropolitan University.

The athlete, who suffers from exercise-related asthma, told a news agency in mid March he would not run the 42.195-km event because he feared Beijing's air pollution was a threat to his health.

Ethiopia's Athletics Federation said last month that Haile cannot opt out of the Beijing Olympics marathon and must follow Ethiopian sports rules.

The report said the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said Haile's withdrawal was fully justified and that no one could force him to compete, "but the Ethiopian Athletics Federation (EAF) said the decision was not his to make." "We really admire him, we love him, we respect him but he's not ready to run 10,000 metres at the Olympics," the coach added." Ethiopia won each of the four individual titles for the first time at the world championships in Edinburgh over the weekend.

Swaziland omitted from new CAF tournament

SOCCER - SWAZILAND is amongst a number of countries that have been omitted from the list of those that will participate in the inaugural African Nations Championships (CHAN) to be held in the Ivory Coast early next year.

National Football Association (FA) CEO Frederick Mngomezulu sounded surprised that the country had also been excluded from the tournament.

He stated that they formally indicated their interest to CAF to feature in the tournament.

"We received the dates of the tournament last week and were surprised to learn that we have not been included in the list of countries to feature in it.

We did indicate to CAF that we were interested in participating in this tournament. We realise that a number of other countries like Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Mozambique were also excluded. We have since written to CAF to demand an explanation on this confusion," Mngomezulu said.

Besides Swaziland, and the countries already mentioned above, it has since emerged that even the six Cecafa member states have also not been included in the qualifying rounds of the tournament.

Although no official word has been received from the continental governing body, it appears that the six Cecafa member states that were ejected from the qualifiers did not follow procedures that involved the submission of forms back to Caf.

This means the Cecafa countries, which include Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Zanzibar, Eritrea, and Djibouti, will not participate in the new tournament which is confined to local-based players.

The same reason may also apply to some 25 other nations that include among others, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Mali, Zambia and Zimbabwe. According to a report sourced from kick-off website, the explanation for the missing nations comes from former Rwanda boss and current Caf executive committee member, Celestin Musabyimana.

He apparently told the Rwanda's Times Sport that Cecafa member states as well as other countries which were never considered for this tournament did not fill forms giving them eligibility to take part in the tournament.

"Caf gave out forms to its member states and those who responded positively by filling the forms were drawn to take part in the tournament.

Caf was not forcing any country to participate in this tournament and that is why several countries will miss out on this tournament," Musabyimana is quoted as saying.

Dates of the qualifiers are expected to be announced soon. The tournament is scheduled for January 18 - February 1 next year.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Ethiopia rubbishes Haile's claim

From John Mehaffey in Leeds, England
April 02, 2008 DUAL Olympic champion Haile Gebrselassie will not compete in the 10,000m at the Beijing Games, Ethiopia's chief athletics coach, Woldemeskel Kostre, said in dismissing the athletics legend's prospects.

Gebrselassie, 34, has withdrawn from the Olympic marathon because of concerns about pollution in Beijing, but he said he could return to the track and compete in the 10,000m.

The four-time world 10,000m champion retired from the track after finishing fifth in the 2004 Olypics final in Athens to concentrate on the marathon, over which distance he is the world record holder.

"It's very tough for him because he can't compete with the younger men over the 10,000," said at a reception for the all-conquering Ethiopian cross-county team at Leeds Metropolitan University.

"That's why he has shifted to the marathon.

"We really admire him, we love him, we respect him but he's not ready to run 10,000 metres at the Olympics."

Ethiopia won each of the four individual titles for the first time at the world championships in Edinburgh over the weekend.

Gebrselassie is scheduled to run over 10,000m in the Dutch town of Hengelo on May 24, but Kostre said an exceptional time in the athlete's only 10,000m race since Athens would not ensure selection for Beijing.

"We have got five others who have run 10,000 in 26 minutes," he said.

Kostre meanwhile said that Kenenisa Bekele, who became the first man to win six world cross-country titles in Edinburgh, was unlikely to attempt the 5000m-10,000m double in Beijing.

Bekele, the Olympic and world 10,000m gold medallist, was beaten into second place in the 5000m in Athens by Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj.

"We think that one will be enough," Kostre said.

Agence France-Presse

ATHLETICS: Cross country squad gets low profile reception

Kenya’s team to last Sunday’s 36th IAAF World Cross Country Championships arrived back home on Monday night to a lukewarm reception.

Eight of the squad remained in Europe to prepare for several track meetings as the build-up for the Beijing Olympics begins in earnest.

Kenya, who swept both junior titles last year, succumbed to Edinburgh’s biting cold and the resurgence of Ethiopia to come home without any individual gold medal for the first time ever since 1984.

After graduating to the senior ranks this year, 2007 junior women’s champion, Linet Masai, couldn’t match the determination of last year’s silver medallist, Tirunesh Dibaba, who won the race in 25 minutes and 10 seconds. Masai hung on to take bronze behind Ethiopia’s Mestawet Tufa and Dibaba. While it was no surprise to see a mass of Kenyans and Ethiopians at the front it was Australia’s Tamara Carvolth who led in the early stages with Kenya’s Mercy Kosgei, last year’s silver medallist, right on her shoulders.

But it wasn’t to be Kosgei’s day. “It was too cold and it I took sometime before I regained my composure. All the same, I’m happy with my performance,” said Kosgei. Ethiopia claimed the senior women’s team title for the seventh consecutive time. Kenya won silver.

Lucas Rotich, who helped Kenya to the junior men’s team gold, said he was now focusing on the season ahead. “I can’t tell you what exactly went wrong, but that has passed and we are now focusing on the Beijing Olympics in August,” said Rotich.

The senior men fared the best with Leonard Patrick Komon’s silver medal, 2006 World Junior Championship silver medallist Joseph Ebuya’s fourth place and Moses Masai’s fifth leading them to team gold although they had expected one of them to win the individual title which went to the Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele.

“Despite having won the team title, we wanted to have at least one of us taking the gold. Although I won silver, I would have wished to win the race. But this doesn’t deter me from advancing in my future races,” said Komon.