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Athletics: Classy Ethiopian eyes hat-trick of Stormont wins

By Steven Beacom

Published 28/12/2006

Top class Ethiopian athlete Etalemahu Kidane will be going all out for a hat-trick of wins in the women's event at the International Cross Country meeting at Stormont.

The prestigious January 6 race is attracting an excellent field with organisers delighted that Kidane will be attempting to retain her crown.

The Ethiopian is a quality performer and is sure to be in confident mood having won at Stormont in 2005 and 2006.

In March, she finished in the top 12 in the world championships in Japan and will be favourite to come home first in Belfast.

Kidane's Ethiopian team-mate Teyiba Erkesso will be hoping to run her close.

Indeed, it may be a very tight race because Erkesso is in top form at present, illustrated by her victory in Brussels earlier this month. Brussels is a happy hunting ground for her because she won a bronze medal at that venue in the World Cross Country Championships in 2004.

That type of form allied to Kidane's Stormont pedigree could see a classic encounter between the well-respected Africans.

Also included in the field will be the winner and runner-up in the recent European U23 cross country championship in Italy.

The winner of that event was Binnaz Uslu of Turkey, who finished nine seconds ahead of Ireland's Fionnula Britton.

Dubliner Britton will hope to gain revenge at Stormont.

She will also plan to overcome the challenge of top Irish cross country runner Mary Cullen of Sligo.

Britain's top cross country runner Hayley Yelling is also in the impressive line-up.

Yelling is a former European Cross Country champion from 2004 and remains a fine athlete.

As for the men's event, former world half marathon road champion Fabian Joseph, of Tanzania, has been added to the field, which already includes current African 10,000m champion Moses Kipsiro from Uganda.

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