Bekele returns to Edinburgh, GB to field strong team

Kenenisa Bekele will return to Scotland for the Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross-Country, where Great Britain will put forward a strong team for the international races

Kenenisa Bekele (Mark Shearman)

Multiple world cross-country champion Kenenisa Bekele will return to the scene of his last World Cross victory when he competes at the Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross-Country on January 7.

But his comeback on the cross will not be easy, as he will be up against world and Olympic 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop and Olympic steeplechase champion Brimin Kipruto.

Bekele last competed at this event in 2010 and suffered a rare defeat. It marked the beginning of a long injury spell for the Ethiopian star, who attempted a comeback at this year’s World Championships but dropped out of the 10,000m.

But Bekele made a stunning return just three weeks later in Brussels to record a world-leading time of 26:43.16 in the 10,000m, showing that he is back in form.

With three more months of quality training now behind him, Bekele is ready to race on the cross-country surface again. “I feel very comfortable starting my important Olympic year by competing in Edinburgh,” he said.

“Because of all the wonderful cross country races I ran there and of course the memories of becoming World Champion in Edinburgh after losing my spike during the race, it feels like coming home to race in Edinburgh against the best in the world.

“My training is going well and, after my victory in the fastest time of the year in the Brussels 10000m, I feel good and ready for the Olympic year ahead.”

Today the British team was announced for the event, and it includes 20 of the athletes who returned from last weekend’s European Cross-Country Championships with a medal of some colour.

Leading the entries are individual champions Emma Pallant and Emelia Gorecka. Pallant will contest the senior women’s 6km race, while Gorecka goes in the junior 4km event.

Also included are European cross-country senior women’s bronze medallist Gemma Steel, under-23 silver medallists James Wilkinson and Naomi Taschimowitz, and junior silver medallist Richard Goodman.

World 5000m champion Mo Farah, winner of the senior men’s long race in Edinburgh last year, has not indicated that he will take part in this year’s race, but with the IAAF World Cross-Country Championships having moved to a biennial event, the Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross-Country looks set to be the world’s leading cross-country event of the winter season.

Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross-Country entries to date

Men short (3km)
Kenenisa Bekele (ETH), Asbel Kiprop (KEN), Brimin Kipruto (KEN).

Men long (6km)
James Wilkinson, Ryan McLeod, James Walsh, Steve Vernon, Frank Tickner, Tom Humphries, Phil Wicks, Derek Hawkins, Keith Gerrard, Richard Goodman (U20), Kieren Clements (U20), Mark Shaw (U20), Jack Goodwin (U20), Robbie Farnham-Rose (U20), Charlie Grice (U20).

Women (6km)
Emma Pallant, Naomi Taschimowitz, Steph Twell, Gemma Steel, Hatti Dean, Hannah Walker, Freya Murray, Elle Baker, Amy Campbell

Junior women (4km)
Emelia Gorecka, Annabel Gummow, Laura Muir, Amy Griffiths, Grace Baker, Iona Lake.

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