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Ethiopia’s Tadese Worku and Kenya’s Hellen Obiri will be the marquee athletes at the ‘Cross Internacional de Itálica’ in Santiponce on the outskirts of Seville on Sunday, the sixth leg of the 2019/20 World Athletics Cross Country Permit series.
The event promises to be a rematch of last Sunday’s races in Elgoibar as both podiums will be on show again.
Will Worku confirm breakthrough?
Turning 18 the day after the race, the young Ethiopian will be happy to celebrate his birthday one day in advance with a victory to confirm his overwhelming win last weekend was no fluke. The reigning world U-20 cross country silver medalist proved to be in stellar form last Sunday and should be tipped as the main favorite in the 10km event.
One of his stiffest opponents should be Burundi’s Thierry Ndikumwenayo, the 22-year-old who will be making his sixth appearance on Spanish soil this cross country campaign. He’s produced three wins -- in Alcobendas (Nov 24), Aranda de Duero ( Dec 1) and Cantimpalos (Dec 8) -- plus a runner-up finish in Soria ( Nov 17). The Italy-based runner, who was ninth at the World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus last year, only finished outside the top-five in Atapuerca (Nov 9) where he finished sixth.
Kenya’s Richard Yator and Aron Kifle, runner-up and third respectively in Elgoibar should also be in contention. The Kenyan was 13th in Aarhus while Kifle has changed his base from Madrid to Nijmegen after joining the Global Sports agency. He will be joined by fellow Eritrean Yemane Haileselassie, an 8:11.22 3000m steeplechase specialist who reached the Rio Olympics final.
Watch out too for USA’s Paul Chelimo and Shadrack Kipchirchir. The former is the reigning Olympic 5000m silver medalist and is fresh from a fourth place in Elgoibar while Kipchirchir came tenth at the Doha worlds over 10,000m and holds a PB of 27:07.55 set in 2017.
Obiri the woman to beat
The women’s cast is headed by the reigning world cross country champion Hellen Obiri. The 30-year-old Kenyan kicked-off her winter campaign successfully in Elgoibar where, after running alongside compatriot Beatrice Chebet for most of the race, broke away from the reigning world U20 cross country on the last lap.
The 19-year-old Chebet should pose the main danger for Obiri, again alongside the reigning world 5000m silver medalist Margaret Kipkemboi Chelimo. The 26-year-old captured a surprise silver in Doha where she set a lifetime best of 14:27.49 and has shown fine form recently by winning a 5km road race in Bolzano on 31 December before taking second at the Campaccio cross country on January 6.
Trying to deny a Kenyan clean sweep over the 9135m contest will be Ethiopia’s Tsehay Gemechu, fourth at the Doha worlds over 5000m in a career best of 14:29.60. Barely two weeks later the 21-year-old set a 1:06:00 personal record for the half marathon in New Delhi. She’ll be racing her first race of the year on Sunday. Gemechu will be joined by fellow Ethiopian Tsige Abreha, the winner in Amorebieta. Kenya’s Eva Cherono, third in Elgoibar, and Bahrain’s World Championships marathon silver medalist Rose Chelimo will also be on show.
(01/17/2020) Views: 591 ⚡AMP
The Cross Internacional de Itálica is an annual cross country running competition that is held every January in Santiponce, near Seville, Spain. Inaugurated in 1982, the race course is set in the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Italica. As one of only two Spanish competitions to hold IAAF permit meeting status, it is one of the more prestigious...more...