Thursday, April 30, 2009

World XC Champion Gebremariam dominates men’s 10,000m - Ethiopian Champs, Day 1

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Outstanding finishing by the recently-minted World Cross Country champion Gebregziabher Gebremariam was the highlight of the first day’s action at the 38th Ethiopian Athletics Championships (29 April- 3 May 2009) at the Addis Ababa stadium on Wednesday evening (29).

The 24-year-old, who last month won his first ever senior global title in Amman, Jordan, once again showed why he is unbeatable at altitude taking victory in 28:45.76 ahead from Imane Merga and Abebe Dinkessa.

Strong field, but Gebremariam in cruise control throughout

But this was not a run-away victory for the two-time national champion. A strong field of around 20 athletes had started the race and the likes of Dinkessa, Merga, All-African Games 10,000m silver medallist Tadesse Tola, Hunegnaw Mesfin (fourth in the World juniors last year), and half marathon specialist Tilahun Regassa had threatened to spoil a happy return to the Addis Ababa stadium for Gebremariam.

After a nervy start with various runners hitting the front in early stages of the race, Regassa was the first to show any kind of sustained front-running as he led a large pack after six laps and continued to push up the pace for the next three laps.

Tola then took over the front running duties and two consecutive 68sec laps later, the field was down to just six runners behind the Prisons Police club man. Regassa, Gebremariam, and Mesfin all hit the front in what looked like ambitious attempts to break-up the leading back, but each of them was quickly tracked and closed down.

With five laps of the race, Dinkessa made the first serious attempt at a breakthrough and reduced the pack to three runners with only Gebremariam and Merga following suit. Two laps later, Merga, who won the IAAF XC Permit meeting in Belfast, UK on 3 January this year, then tried to break-up his more experienced compatriots without any success.

At the bell, these three leading runners and Tola, who had made ground on the leading three, all stood a healthy chance of victory. But the experienced Gebremariam timed his kick perfectly with 200m left to extend his winning streak on domestic soil to 15 months. Merga beat Dinkessa in the scramble for second, while Tola and Mesfin took 4th and 5th respectively.

“I am delighted with the victory,” said Gebremariam after the race. “I knew I had the finishing kick and that is why I waited until the end.”

Elshadai Negash for the IAAF


Men’s 10,000m
1. Gebregziabher Gebremariam (Ethiopian Banks) 28:45.37
2. Imane Merga (Defence) 28:46.04
3. Abebe Dinkessa (Prisons Police) 28:47.14

Monday, April 27, 2009

Ethiopia’s Tside wins Hamburg marathon

Hamburg - Solomon Tside of Ethiopia won the Hamburg marathon Sunday, beating the Kenyan Charles Ngolepus and Jose Telles de Souza of Brazil. Tside crossed the line in the northern German city in 2 hours 11 minutes 47 seconds, with a clear lead over Ngolepus, who began the race as pacemaker.

The Kenyan posted 2:13:25, with Telles de Souza on 2:14:46.

In summery conditions, Tside's time was well off the three-year-old Hamburg record of 2:06:52 set by Julio Rey of Spain.

Alessandra Aguilar of Spain clinched the women's race in 2:29:01, ahead of Tigist Abdi Sheni of Ethiopia (2:34:01) and Ulrike Maisch of Germany (2:34:28).

Wanjiru shakes off Ethiopian to conquer London

By Mutwiri Mutuota and agencies

Nyahururu erupted into song and dance as Kenya’s marathon running king, Samuel Kamau Wanjiru, added the London crown to his Olympic title in a course record performance.

Speaking to FeverPitch from the London winners’ home in the suburbs of the town moments after her son held off a spirited challenge from Ethiopia’s Tsegay Kebede to conquer London in 2:05:10 yesterday, Wanjiru’s mother, Ann Wanjiru, was filled with joy.

"I give thanks and praise to God for giving him the strength to win. We had prayed hard for victory and now we are very happy that it was delivered," the elated mother proclaimed.

"I was watching the race at Kamau’s home with his wife and when the Ethiopian came close, I went down to my knees to pray for him to get the power to finish and get the record he wanted.

"When he returns, we shall praise the Lord and stage a huge party in his honour," she offered.

His local coach, Robert Kioni, added: "I am very happy for him. Even when Kebede closed in, we knew when it is good for him to run his last kick and he did it to perfection.

"I was a bit worried when he missed his water at 40km but he held on brilliantly at the end despite the challenge."

A tense race

Villagers in Wanjiru’s Nyahururu home trooped in their droves to watch the action on satellite television and after a tense race, erupted to song and dance as an impromptu party got underway as gospel music blared.

Wanjiru, 22, who holds the Olympics course record of 2:06:32, ran in Beijing last year, bettered compatriot Martin Lel’s previous London best of 2:05:15. Lel, the defending champion, pulled out of the competition hours before the race with a hip problem.

Wanjiru was forced to work hard in the final kilometres, glancing anxiously over his shoulder, as Kebede narrowed the margin. He surged again with 2km to run and held on to win ahead of Beijing bronze medallist, who clocked 2:05:20. Twice world champion Gharib was third in 2:05:27.

Athletics Kenya (AK) chairman, Isaiah Kiplagat, said, "I must say that Wanjiru’s performance is quite good. I also wish to congratulate all the other Kenyans who ran in London yesterday."

Emmanuel Mutai (2:06:53) and 2006 London champion, Felix Limo (2:09:47) finished fourth and tenth. World champion, Luke Kibet did not finish.

In the women’s race, Olympic silver medallist, Catherine Ndereba, was the best-placed Kenyan in seventh after clocking 2:26:22. Comrade, Martha Komu did not finish. Defending champion Irina Mikitenko of Germany won in 2:22:11 ahead of Britain’s Mara Yamauchi who produced a personal best of 2:23:12.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Merga dominates, Kosgei edges Tune - Boston Marathon report

20 April 2009 – Boston, USA – In contrasting styles, Deriba Merga and Salina Kosgei won their respective titles at the 113th BAA Boston Marathon.

The BAA Boston Marathon is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race.

Just a year after Dire Tune won the Boston Marathon by two seconds over Alevtina Biktimirova, she was once again locked in a sprint battle down Boyleston Street for the Marathon victory. Unfortunately for Tune, that was the only similarity, as this time her opponent was Kosgei of Kenya, Tune was ultimately unable to defend her title, and this time the margin of victory was only one second. Kosgei won her first major Marathon (she had previously won in Singapore, Prague, and Paris) in 2:32:16, with Tune second in 2:32:17 and Kara Goucher 2:32:25 in third, reprising her ING New York City Marathon finish from last fall.

In the 21 runnings of the Boston Marathon since Ibrahim Hussein won Kenya's first title in 1988, Kenyans have won 16, with Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot winning the last three. Today, the best Kenya could manage was second, as Merga of Ethiopia stormed to victory in 2:08:42 to win his first major Marathon, breaking away at the very beginning of the hills which dominate the second half of Boston's point-to-point course and eventually building a fifty-second lead over Kenyan Daniel Rono, who finished second in 2:09:32. Rono was followed closely by Ryan Hall in 2:09:40, rounding out the highest combined male-female performance by the USA in over twenty years.

Merga's new patience pays off – Men’s race

Despite Merga's reputation as a front runner, it was Hall who set the opening pace, passing the first mile in 4:40. Through nine miles, Hall was a presence at the front as the pace hovered slightly below course-record pace. The pace relaxed progressively until 16 miles, where the hills began, with Merga seldom visible in the pack.

In 2006, Merga had covered a breakaway move in Boston and wound up walking in the last several miles, his bloody shoes in his hands. In 2008, Merga's dogged pursuit of Samuel Wanjiru in the Olympic Marathon led to him struggling in the closing stages and ultimately losing a medal on the track inside the Bird Cage. In 2009 the lesson apparently has been learned. Before the race, Merga told reporters that winning Boston was about being "the last lion standing".

Merga waited until 16 miles. At Newton Lower Falls, the lowest point on the course aside from the finish, Merga led a breakaway that shattered a 17-runner pack into individuals. Rono and Solomon Molla of Ethiopia tried to cover the move and for a mile or so the trio was nominally a lead pack, but Merga was in charge. Molla wound up fading to seventh. By the top of Heartbreak Hill, the race was essentially over.

Merga's race had followed a classic Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot blueprint, except that rather than chipping away at the pack he simply blew it to pieces. Cheruiyot himself was not so fortunate. By the second of the three hills, the defending champion was visibly suffering with a back issue, and later reports said he left the course before the 23 mile mark. (His namesake, Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot, finished fifth in 2:10:06, and training partner Evans Cheruiyot was eighth in 2:12:45.)

"At the beginning," said Merga, "I thought I would push at 35km. I looked around at 25km, and I thought there were a lot of strong athletes, and I thought I might not win if I didn't push from there."

"I didn't get what I needed at the Olympic Games," Merga explained, speaking both specifically of fluid on the course but more generally of goals reached and honours achieved. "At 40km I looked back, and there was nobody in sight of me. That's when I knew I would win. I know Robert Cheruiyot is a strong athlete, and when he did not come up on me after 30km, I thought maybe today was not his day."

Rono, for his part, was pleased with his second place performance. "We toured the course before the race, and I saw that the course is like life; at the end, there is a steep struggle. I thought the racing would start at halfway."

Hall, who owns the fastest PB in the field, said, "I felt like a rookie out there. I'm excited to come back and give it another try. I was trying to keep an eye on the guys up front, because staying positive is the biggest challenge for most of us."

Staying positive was less of a challenge for four-time winner and former course record holder Bill Rodgers, who started with a later wave of runners and finished in 4:06:49. Now 61, Rodgers started the Marathon for the first time since 1999.

Slow pace leaves a crowd in contention – women’s race

The women's winning time was the slowest since 1985 (coincidentally, also the last year an American woman won in Boston), and the slowest since the Marathon began awarding prize money in 1986. In the teeth of a brisk headwind from the start, pace lagged early, with the entire pack of professional women (who started 28 minutes before the open race) eyeing each other and refusing to take the pace on the downhill slope out of Hopkinton. Eventually the leading duties fell to the apparently ageless Colleen de Reuck, now 45 and running for the Masters (over-40) title. The first mile was a sluggish 6:28, the first 5km passed in 18:58, and things did not get faster.

The pace remained manageable for De Reuck as she continued to share the lead through eight miles, when she faded to the back of the huge lead pack for several miles (the leader at nine miles was Firya Sultanova-Zhdanova, the Masters course record holder). The pace was still not sufficient to drop her, as she returned to the front for the last time at 18 and 20 miles. De Reuck did end up winning the Masters division in 2:35:37, placing 8th overall and earning a $10,000 for the Masters win and $7,400 for the overall finish.

The hills in Boston begin at the 16 mile mark (shortly after the 25km marker) and continue through 21 miles (shortly before the 35km marker). The women continued their relaxed pace right through the hills, with Goucher finally taking over the lead at the crest of Heartbreak Hill, the last of three climbs in the series. After 21 miles averaging 5:57 miles, Goucher ran a 5:21 which reduced the pack, then 13 strong, to five.

Another acceleration at mile 23 (the athletes ran from 23 to 24 in 5:09) dropped Helena Kiprop and Bezunesh Bekele, leaving only Goucher, Tune and Kosgei. Goucher continued to lead, pushing hard to break away, until less than one kilometre remained.

When the three women made the short turn on Hereford Street before emerging on Boyleston to run for the finish, Tune and Kosgei began to separate themselves from Goucher. The pair crossed and re-crossed paths as they battled up Boyleston, but it was Kosgei who crossed the finish line first by a stride. Tune collapsed to the street, and was eventually carried off. (Tune was taken to a hospital but released shortly afterward.) Goucher finished just eight seconds behind Tune and nine behind Kosgei. Goucher's third-place finish was the best by an American woman since Kim Jones placed second in 1993.

"I didn't know how strong I was," said Kosgei of the sprint for the finish. "I finished first by chance. Before I was a marathoner, I was a sprinter, running the 800m and 400m. I've never run a slower race," she added. "The day was not bad, the problem was the wind."

Goucher added, "I thought I was going to have a kick. My legs were still poppy, I had some energy left." Goucher also admitted to missing one of her fluid bottles, even though she had worn gloves made for (American) football wide receivers, designed for good grip.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bolt, Isinbayeva and Dibaba finalists for 2009 Laureus World Sports Award

2008 Olympic champions Usain Bolt, Yelena Isinbayeva and Tirunesh Dibaba are among the finalists for the 2009 Laureus World Sport Award, the organisation announced today.

Bolt took the entire sporting world by storm in Beijing last summer when he captured gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m Relay with World record performances.

Isinbayeva, 26, defended her Olympic title in Beijing with yet another World record. Isinbayeva is a previous recipient of the Sportswoman of the Year award, winning the honour in 2006.

With a dominating performance in the Chinese capital, Dibaba the first woman to claim the 5000m and 10,000m double at the same Olympic Games.

Both Bolt and Isinbayeva were named World Athletes of the Year for 2008 at the World Athletics Gala in Monaco last November.

Also nominated for the World Team of the Year prize was Jamaica’s Olympic sprint relay squad.

“This has been a great year for sport and the Academy are going to find it extremely difficult to decide who to vote for as winners,” said Laureus World Sports Academy Chairman Edwin Moses, a former World record holder in the 400m Hurdles and two-time Olympic champion. “This is always the case in an Olympics year, but we have has some very strong performances from the non-Olympic sports. I congratulate all the nominees.”

Gebremariam confirmed for New York - IAAF World Athletics Tour

New York, USA - Reigning World 100m champions Veronica Cambell-Brown and Tyson Gay and World Cross Country champion Gebre-egziabher Gebremariam are the first key names announced for the Reebok Grand Prix in New York on 30 May.

The Reebok Grand Prix is the first of two IAAF World Athletics Tour meetings this season in the U.S.A.

At 26 Campbell-Brown is already a five-time Olympic medallist, and in Beijing became only the second woman in Olympic history to successfully defend a 200m title. In Osaka two years ago, the Jamaican also captured the 100m World title. At Icahn Stadium she'll be gunning for her third straight 100 New York victory.

In 2007 Gay won the 100m, 200m and 4x100m World titles in Osaka and was later named World Athlete of the Year. But a lingering injury knocked him out of the Olympic 100m in the semi-finals last year less than two months after he lowered the American 100m record to 9.77.

Just two weeks ago, Gebremariam, 23, won the World Cross Country title in Amman, Jordan. The Ethiopian distance champion previously won World Cross individual medals in 2002, 2003 and 2004. With his individual gold and team silver medals, Gebremariam has now earned 15 medals at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, second only to compatriot Kenenisa Bekele.

Also announced was Sweden’s reigning three-time World Heptathlon champion Carolina Kluft who compete in the Long Jump.

Now in its fifth year, the Reebok Grand Prix which will in 2010 join the IAAF Diamond League, is held at the state-of-the-art Icahn Stadium on New York's Randall's Island.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Obama makes presidential pitch for 2016 Olympics

Describing Chicago as an international city that he and his wife and children call home, President Barack Obama in a video welcomed Olympic evaluators here today to begin the task of grading whether the city is ready to host the 2016 games.

Obama, who remains overseas, described a city that grew up under architect Daniel Burnham's refrain — used a lot in the city's bid for the games — "make no small plans, they have no magic to stir the soul," and called the city a great American melting pot.

"It’s a city where the world’s races and religions and nationalities all live and work and play and reach for the American Dream that brought them here; where our civic parades wave the colors of every culture; where our classrooms are filled with the sounds of the world’s languages," he said, noting that jazz, ranchera and bhangra can be heard "down the street from one another."

But beyond that, the President told the 13-member International Olympic Committee's evaluation commission, Chicago is his home.

"After your visit, once you discover the Chicago that I know — the city that I made my home, the city where my wife grew up, the city where we raised our daughters just blocks from where these games will be held — I am confident you will discover that you’re already in the perfect host city for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games," the President said.

Reporters watched the video in a screening separate from the meeting between Chicago 2016 officials, Mayor Daley and the IOC evaluation team. Officials said the proceedings were closed to the press at the wishes of the IOC, which will examine over four days everything from sporting venues to the city's transit system. It was unclear when Obama recorded the video.

But in it, he talks about how the 2016 games in Chicago could "stir the soul" of the entire globe. Chicago 2016 officials now use the slogan, "Let friendship shine," dropping the old "Stir the soul" slogan after organizers realized its translation in several languages could be interpreted as "Stir the innards," a Chicago 2016 official said.

While Chicago is the first to be evaluated, the IOC team will also be grading finalist cities Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and Tokyo.

Today's closed-door discussions will focus on environmental issues, transportation, proposed sporting venues across the city, and the Olympic Village planned for the Michael Reese Hospital campus in the 2900 block of South Ellis.

The IOC evaluation commission will tour the venues and Olympic Village site on Sunday. By the time they wrap up their work on Tuesday, the group will be prepared to report back to the 100-plus members of the IOC, which will vote on a host city for the games on Oct. 2 in Copenhagen.

It was unclear just when Chicago will start talking about money. At an international sporting conference in Denver last week, Ryan said he and others will go into "granular detail" with the evaulation team about funding the games.

The $4.8 billion pricetag has raised the ire of some, including the "No Games Chicago" group, which protested in the Loop Friday amid concerns about the economic downturn and whether taxpayers will foot the bill.

Pat Ryan, Chief Executive Officer of Chicago 2016, says that won’t happen, and that boosters will be seeking private donations if the city wins the bid.

Chicago 2016's financial safety net includes a $450 million "rainy day fund;" as much as $375 million in IOC cancellation insurance; another $500 million in insurance coverage; and a "last-resort" $500 million guarantee of taxpayer money from the City of Chicago.

Unlike Chicago, the other three finalist cities have national government guarantees backing the entire costs of their bids.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Against a loaded field, Makau ready for anticipated debut - Rotterdam Marathon preview

Rotterdam, The Netherlands - Although he has never run a full Marathon, Patrick Makau will start as one of the favourites in Sunday’s 29th edition of the Fortis Rotterdam Marathon.

The Fortis Rotterdam Marathon is an IAAF Silver Label Road Race.

With eight sub-60 minute Half Marathons under his belt and experience on the very fast Rotterdam course where he finished second in 2007 (59:19) and won in 2008 (59:29), it is almost a simple case of logic that the soft-spoken Kenyan who just turned 24 is to be considered as one of the favourites on Sunday.

“In the preparation for Rotterdam I made my longer runs in training somewhat longer,” said Makau, who clocked 58:52, this year's fastest performance, to win the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon in February. “I did not change my speed training.”

Kwambai confident as well in Berlin follow-up

Makau will be in very good company in Rotterdam. Eleven of the male starters have personal Marathon bests under 2:10:00. The fastest in the field is Kenyan James Kwambai who ran 2:05:36 in Berlin last September where he finished second behind Haile Gebrselassie’s 2:03:59 World record. Kwambai said he is quite confident.

“I have run six marathons and know the distance. In the middle of November I started my training for this marathon and everything went fine. I know the course as I was a pace maker here in 2006.”

Kwambai’s training partner Duncan Kibet is also in the field. Kibet,who won the Milan marathon in November with a personal best of 2:07:53, also confirmed that his preparation for Rotterdam went well.

Another contender is Kenyan Richard Limo who has fond memories of competing in The Netherlands. He ran his fastest Marathon (2:06:48) in 2007 in Amsterdam finishing second. A year ago he was fourth in Rotterdam in 2:08:43.

“I learned a lot from that race,: Limo said. “I know the course is very fast and I am well prepared.”

For Abel Kirui (PB 2:06:51) the Rotterdam course also has no secrets as he was pace maker here in the very warm 2007 edition. “I am confident about Sunday,” Kirui said. “My shape is very good.”

The third sub-2:07:00 runner in the race is William Kiplagat (2:06:50). The 36-year-old Kenyan was the Rotterdam winner in 2003 clocking 2:07:42. Joshua Chelanga (PB, 2:07:05) also has very good memories of Rotterdam. He won the very warm 2007 edition in 2:08:21. He was a late entrant this year, replacing course record holder William Kipsang (2:05:39 last year) who had to withdraw due to sickness. “Although I heard late that I could start in Rotterdam, I am confident as I’ve trained for a marathon since January.”

Other sub-2:10 runners in the field include: Deressa Chimsa (ETH, 2:07:54), Jackson Kipkoech (KEN, 2:08:07), Chala Dechase (ETH, 2:08:31), Mariko Kipchumba (KEN, 2:09:03) and Mesfin Ademasu (ETH, 2:09:49).

The plan for the race is well prepared, Race Director Eric Brommert said during a pre-race press conference on Thursday. “We will start with seven pace makers who all have run the half marathon under one hour. The plan is to keep the whole group, including the pace makers, together under 30 kilometres, which we will reach in 1:29:00. Then everybody can go for his chance. At 30 kilometres we are in the Kralingse Bos (Kralingen Wood) were the course is a little down hill. Then the race is really on!”

Cheromei the one to watch in the women’s race

The women’s field is not as deep as the men’s. The hot favorite is 31-year-old Kenyan Lydia Cheromei, who ran a personal best of 2:25:57 in Amsterdam last October. Some weeks before she won the Fortis Rotterdam Half Marathon in a then-personal best of 1:08:35.

“I hope to break my marathon personal best time,” Cheromei said. “I know the course is very fast and my preparation went very well.”

Also well prepared in Adriana Pirtea. The 27-year-old Romanian (PB 2:28:52) said she learned a lot from her experience in Chicago two years ago where she was jubilant over an impending victory only to be overtaken by Berhane Adere just before the finish line.

“It will never happen again,” she said. “I learned a lot from that mistake. I have had very good preparation for Rotterdam. My training was more quiet.”

Other contenders are Russian Nailya Yulmanova (2:30:17) and Sue Harrison of Great Britain (2:36:13).

The weather forecast for Sunday (starting time 11.00) is very good, with temperatures expected to be about 12 C. With little wind and little sunshine. 11,367 runners have entered the marathon, 17 per cent of them women.

Wim van Hemert for the IAAF

Ethiopia’s Zewdie Returns to Carlsbad 5000

CARLSBAD, CA — The Carlsbad 5000, home of the current 5k World Records, has announced the professional field for the elite invitational on Sunday, April 5. Defending men’s champion Maregu Zewdie of Ethiopia will attempt to win back-to-back titles after a thrilling finish in last year’s race, in which only two seconds separated the top five finishing times. Zewdie, owner of two team Gold Medals from the World Cross Country Championships, will be challenged by a group of American runners led by Californian Scott Bauhs.

Bauhs, a two-time National Champion and a participant in last summer’s U.S. Olympic Trials, won his pro racing debut at the Synaptics Elite Athlete 5-K in San Jose with an unofficial time of 13:37, the fastest for an American on the roads last year. He also finished sixth at the 2007 Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose half-marathon in 1:03:04, the top U.S. finisher in the race by over a minute.

“To say I’m fired up about running Carlsbad would be an understatement,” said Bauhs, who will wear an Adidas uniform for the first time at Carlsbad. “My training partners will tell you that I won’t quit talking about the event and I got even more excited when I found out who was running. Between the blazing fast Ethiopians, ‘Fam’ (Anthony Famiglietti) and the Aussies, it is going to be a great race and a perfect way to start the season.”

The men’s field features two Carlsbad champions including 2006 winner Abreham Cherkos of Ethiopia. Cherkos, the former world junior champion over 3000m, finished 5th in the Olympic 5000m final at Beijing last summer and owns a PR of 12:54 for the distance. Fellow Ethiopian Ali Abdosh comes to Carlsbad with PR of 13:01:44 and a successful 2008 season, including a 5000m victory at the Adidas Track Classic. Also expected to contend for the title is Shedrack Korir of Kenya, the 2007 world championship 1500m bronze medalist in Osaka. He has a PR of 13:09 over 5000m and was the 2006 Kenyan national 1500m champion.

The non-African international challenge will likely be led by former University of Arkansas star Alistair Cragg of Ireland. At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Cragg competed in the 1500m and 5000m track events, his second Olympic 5000m final.

Australian Collis Birmingham comes to Carlsbad having set a 5000m PR of 13:16 in Melbourne earlier this year, which is the world’s fastest outdoor time in 2009. These athletes join previously announced U.S. Olympians Anthony Famiglietti and triathlete Jarrod Shoemaker in the stellar lineup of runners including 8 Americans.

The women’s field for Carlsbad is equally impressive. The international competition challenging U.S. Olympians Christin Wurth-Thomas and Shannon Rowbury will be led by Aheza Kiros of Ethiopia. Kiros was part of the Ethiopian national team who went to the 2007 World Championships in Osaka. She has a PR of 15:09 for 5000m and finished 3rd at Carlsbad in 2007.

U.S. 10,000m Champion Katie McGregor looks to be in good form after recently finishing second at the USA 15k Championships. A five-time qualifier for the U.S. World Cross Country team, McGregor is a national champion in the 25k, 10k road and 10,000m. She spent the second half of 2008 training for the ING New York City Marathon, recording a top-10 finish and personal best time of 2:31:14. Marisol Romero, the Mexican national champion over 1500m, rounds out the favorites in the international field.

The complete field of international athletes will be introduced at a local media briefing at Pizza Port in Carlsbad on Friday, April 3 at 2:00 pm. To view the full start lists, visit

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

World record ratified:5000 m

Monte-Carlo - The following World record has just been ratified...

Women – Indoor

14:24.37 Meseret Defar ETH, Stockholm, SWE, 18 Feb 2009

previous: 14:27.42 Tirunesh Dibaba ETH, Boston, USA, 27 Jan 07

Soccer legend John Barnes gives backing to Score Ethiopia campaign

FORMER England football star John Barnes is urging young footie fanatics across Birmingham to help provide much-needed sports facilities for children in Africa.

The ex-Liverpool winger has linked up with Score Ethiopia to ask primary school youngsters to design a football kit for their school team – which will then be exchanged with one designed by a school in Ethiopia.

John said: “Ethiopia is still one of the world’s five poorest countries, yet even in the face of adversity, one passion that its people share is football.

“So, we’re asking kids across Birmingham to combine their love of the beautiful game with a splash of flair and imagination by designing a football kit for a school in Ethiopia. In the meantime, kids of the same age in Ethiopia will be doing exactly the same thing.”

He added: “Children in this country still have a need for new equipment. Designing a kit puts both UK and Ethiopian schools on a level playing field as a gift exchanged between communities at different ends of the world.

“It will also provide an education and understanding between the children of each country as schools in both countries will receive education packs giving an introduction to culture, ethos and community living.”

Winning schools will be treated to a visit by their Ethiopian counterparts and John to exchange the two kits.

Nadine Ifill, of St Augustine’s Catholic Primary in Handsworth, saw her football kit design win last year’s Score Ethiopia competition. It is now being enjoyed by pupils from Feleg Abiyot Ele School in Lalibela, Ethiopia.

The competition is organised by shampoo company Wash & Go.

Any schools wishing to take part should contact the Score Ethiopia hotline on 0161 828 5400.

Ethiopia has agreed to end dispute with FIFA

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (Reuters) - Ethiopia has agreed to end a long-running row with world governing body FIFA over leadership of the country's football federation, giving the national team the chance to play in international competitions again.

Ethiopia were thrown out of the World Cup qualifying competition last year after refusing to honor an agreement reached with FIFA over restoring the local federations officially recognized leaders.

The Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF) held an emergency meeting on Friday and decided to comply with FIFAs requirements, including holding a meeting to elect a new executive committee, state television and local media said.