By Elshadai Negash | Special to Universal Sports
Ethiopia’s double Olympic and world 5000m and 10000m champion Kenenisa Bekele will not compete in the 38th IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Bydogscz, Poland on March 28.
Instead, the the team will be led by Olympic women’s 5000m and 10000m champion Tirunesh Dibaba who returns back to the annual championships after missing the 2009 edition.
The news ends weeks of intense speculation that Bekele, who had indicated his retirement, may have made a U-turn and decided to compete in this year’s edition.
But following a calf injury he sustained in training in the build-up to a world record attempt in Birmingham, the 27-year old has not been able to sufficiently recover in time for the race in the small Polish city.
Apart from Bekele’s participation, the absence of Tirunesh Dibaba and defending men’s champion Gebregziabher Gebremariam from the trials in February had delayed the naming of the team this year.
The two athletes have now been included in the senior women’s and men’s teams respectively, while selectors have also given a women’s junior team wild card entry to two-time world junior country champion Genzebe Dibaba, who had dropped out in the middle of the women’s senior race at the trials because of injury.
Worlds 10000m silver medallist Meselech Melkamu is also a strong medal hope in the senior women’s team, while trials winner Azmeraw Bekele and Hunegnaw Mesfin, who beat Gebremariam in Amorebeita, Spain in January, are in contention for medals in the senior men’s team.
Ethiopian team for Bydogscz
6km Junior Women : Afera Gudfai, Genet Yalew, Emebet Anteneh, Waganesh Mekasha, Merima Mohammod, Genzebe Dibaba
8km Junior Men: Yekeber Beyibel, Gebretsadik Abraha, Mesenet Geremew, Belete Assefa, Gashaw Biftu, Debebe Woldesenbet
8km Senior Women: Tirunesh Dibaba, Meselech Melkamu, Mamitu Daska, Workinesh Kidane, Feyisse Tadesse, Abebech Afework, Belayenesh Wakjira (reserve)
12km Senior Men: Azmeraw Bekele, Ayele Abshero, Abera Kuma, Hunegnaw Mesfin, Feyissa Lelisa, Gebregziabher Gebremariam, Dino Sefer (reserve)
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