Asbel Kiprop Makes Statement As Kenenisa Bekele Suffers Shock Defeat At BUPA Great Edingburgh Cross Country

Olympic 1500 Champ Earns Comfortable Victory Over Olympic Steeple, 5k and 10k Champs As Bekele Finishes Outside Top 10 For 1st Time Since 2001

Courtesy of Race Organizers, by Ken Martin
January 7, 2012

Double Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele will probably have preferred to have stayed in Ethiopia where it was Christmas Day rather than suffer the ignominy of a shock defeat at the Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country on Saturday.

The world's greatest ever distance runner looked a shadow of his former self as he finished well down the field in 11th position in the International three kilometres race at the IAAF Permit event meeting in Holyrood Park.

There were no excuses from Bekele as he struggled in a race which included two other 2008 Olympic gold medallists, Kenyan's Asbel Kiprop the 1500m champion and Brimin Kipruto winner of the 3000m steeplechase in Beijing.

Fortunately Kiprop a former World Junior cross country winner upheld the trio's reputation when eventually scoring a relatively easy success by five seconds from an elated Briton Jonny Hay in a time of nine minutes 20 seconds.

They were followed home by defending champion Eliud Kipchoge who finished runner up behind Bekele over 5000m in China and took third in 9:26, a time he shared with fourth finisher Juan Carlos Higuero of Spain with Bekele reduced to a jog, 16 seconds behind them.

Bekele, despite suffering his second defeat over the lush Holyrood Palace course in the last two years, then seeing himself  not compete until last year's World Championships where he dropped out in the 10000 metres final, remains confident his performance did not send out the wrong message.

"The course was okay and my shape is not good,  that's the reason," said Bekele,  "I'm 50/50 at the moment and I was not confident before the race. It is too early in the year to be in great shape.

"My goal is to build up for the Olympics and I want to do it slowly. I'm not happy with the result but what can I do about it. I wanted a good position but my body was not ready."

Kiprop his eyes already fixed on the defence of his title at the London Olympics admitted he was surprised to have won the race which included his world class fellow African runners.

"This was a great race for me," said the 2011 runner up who then later in the year went on to win the World 1500m crown last summer in Daegu. "I came here last year and this victory proved my preparations are again good."

Kiprop who broke clear in the final kilometre, added: "I expected Bekele and the others to come up on me and I was surprised when they didn't respond."

The race was undoubtedly the highlight of the meeting. However it also staged an exciting Team International Match between the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland squad, the United States and a Europe Select side.

The host nation triumphed from the American and the European visitors although their only individual victory came in the junior women's race won by European junior gold medallost Emelia Gorecka.

The senior men's 8km event saw Ayad Lamdassem run a perfect race to score a comfortable win ahead of Bobby Mack and more importantly Atelaw Bekele who beat him for the European Cross Country title in  last month.

The Spaniard looking fresh as a daisy produced a scorching finish when flying away in the final 250m from Bekele who had looked powerful in the early stages but then was caught by Lamdassem, Jonny Grey with his American colleague Bobby Mack just off the pace.

While Lamdassem who after his determined sprint crossed the line in 25:44 was never going to be caught, Mack sixth finisher last year, raise his game to snatch the runner up slot when his late spurt saw him pass Bekele on the line both sharing the same time of 25:47.

"I knew it would be hard because of the elite athletes who I would have to beat and were in the race," said Lamdassem. "Bekele is a very strong cross country runner and after Velenje, I was determined to beat him."

Fionnuala Britton in her first race since clinching the European Cross Country title, produced a display which was even more dominant when whipping the opposition on that occasion.

The Irishwoman who many believe could emerge in the footsteps of Sonia O'Sullivan if she can continue her momentum on the track where she is planning to race 5000m and 10000m at the Olympic Games, bided her time for the first kilometre.

Then the Europe Select team captain quickly hit the front and although tested initially by Gemma Steel third behind her in Velenje, pulled well clear of the Briton with a pulsating final two kilometre circuit of the Royal Park.

It saw the 27-year-old finish 20 seconds clear of Steel who chased her pluckily to the end with her Brit team mate Elle Baker coming through to grap third in 22:08.

After the festivities over the the holidays where I relaxed, I felt the pressure," said Britton. "I suppose I knew I was the person everyone was going to to try and chase down and that's what happened."

Britton an international class  3000m steeplechaser and eyeing the Olympics, added: "I've been told I need to up my distance and I've finally accepted the fact."

Ethiopian-born Kirubel Erassa ran a perfect race to win the junior men's 6km race when biding his time, he kept to his race plan when Mark Shaw and Kieron Clements of Great Britain made a determnined break 11:30 into the contest.

Erassa who moved to the USA in 2005, gradually hauled in first Shaw then Clements before unleashing a powerful finish which carried him to a comfortable victory.

The 18-year-old winner who has a twin sister and nine siblings crossed the line in 19:56 with fast finishing Clements and Shaw posting marks of 19:57 and 19:59 behind him.

Gorecka was also rewarded for her patience when taking the junior women's 4km title after staying with the pack rather than chase the USA's Erin Finn who blasted away after it started.

She bided her time before beginning her pursuit and hauling in her American rival before the halfway point and then stamping her mark on the race.

The 17-year-old still a junior until the end of 2013 then piled on the pace to win by a huge margin in 14:48. She was followed by the American pair of Aisling Cuffe and Molly Seidel who clocked 15:09 and 15:16.

Results Below:

International Team Match
1, Great Britain & Northern Ireland 144 points, United States 196
points, Europe Select 215
Individual Results
Men
Senior (8km)

1, A Lamdassem (EUR) 25:44
2, B Mack (US) 25:47
3, A Bekele (EUR) 25:47
4, J Grey (US) 22:52
5, F Tickner (GB) 25:55
6, J Guerra (EUR) 26:00
7, S Vernon (GB) 26:00
8, T Humphries (GB) 26:07
9, A Meftah (EUR) 26:10
10, J Taylor (GB) 26:13

Junior (6km)

1, K Erassa (US) 19:56
2, K Clements (GB) 19:57
3, M Shaw (GB) 19:59
4, E Owens (US) 20:09
5, A Gardner (US) 20:11
6, S Tobin (IRL/Ind) 20:15

International 3Km

1, A Kiprop (Kenya) 9:20
2, J Hay (GB) 9:25
3, E Kipchoge (Kenya) 9:26
4, J-C Hihuero (Spain) 9:26
5, R Stevenson (GB) 9:30
6, R Millington (GB) 9:34
7, C Hawkins (GB) 9:39
8, A Casado (Spain) 9:40
9, S Vernon (GB) 9:41
10, A Wiles (GB) 9:42
11, K Bekele (Ethiopia) 9:42
12, B Kipruto (Kenya)

Women
Senior (6km)

1, F Britton (EUR) 21:32
2, G Steel (GB) 21:52
3, E Baker (GB) 22:08
4, N Spence (US) 22:11
5, F Murray (GB) 22:22:17
6, H Dean (GB) 22:29
7, R Barca (EUR) 22:32
8, H Walker (GB) 22:33
9, S Twell (GB) 22:37
10, L Thweatt ((US)

Junior (4km)

1, E Gorfecka (GB) 14:48
2, A Cuffe (US) 15:09
3, M Seidel (US) 15:16
4, K Knight (US) 1`5:23
5, I Lake (GB) 15:27
6, J Jackson (US) 15:29
end

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