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Posted: March 28, 2009  :

(RRW) Athletics: Resurgent Gebrmariam Wins World Cross Title

From David Monti

© 2009 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

While it is true that Gebre-egziabher Gebremariam had previously won four individual IAAF World Cross Country Championships medals, the last had come five years ago for the 24 year-old Ethiopian. Moreover, it was seven years ago he won his only previous title in these championships when he took the junior race in Dublin in 2002, officially as a 17 year-old.

But with a strong kick, he beat an incredible field today in Amman, Jordan, to bring Ethiopia the individual gold, despite not having the services of the injured Kenenisa Bekele. Emerging from a pack of 14 who still remained in contention after five laps of the six-lap 12 km race, Gebremariam was credited with a two-second victory in 35:02 over Ugandan Moses Kipsiro. Zersenay Tadese, the Eritrean who prevailed in these championships in the searing heat of Mombassa in 2007, finished third.

Gebremariam's strong finish was not enough to deliver the team title to Ethiopia, but only by a hair's breadth. Both Kenya and Ethiopia scored 28 points, but Kenya's fourth man, Moses Mosop, finished 11th to Ethiopia's fourth man, Feyisa Lilesa, who was 12th. It was Kenya's fourth consecutive senior men's team title at these championships. Eritrea got the bronze medal with 50 points.

Dominance by the Africans in this event remained high: 22 of the top-25 finishers represented African nations while all 25 of the top finishers were born in Africa (three former Kenyans, including Saif Saaeed Shaheen, now run for Qatar). In Edinburgh last year, the first finisher not born in Africa was American Jorge Torres who finished 19th.

The top European finisher was Spain's Carles Castillejo in 26th place; the top Oceania finisher was Australia's Collis Birmingham in 29th place; and the top North American finisher was the United States' Ryan Vail in 33rd place.

The next, and 38th, IAAF World Cross Country Championships will be held in Bydgoszcz, Poland, on March 27, 2010.

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