Teklemariam Medhin will lead the field at the 12th “Finibanco Cross Internacional de Oeiras” on Saturday (13), the second stop of the IAAF Cross Country Permit Series 2010/11.
With a strong test in mind for Portuguese runners with the European Cross Country Championships approaching in Albufeira on 12 December, the organisers, Maratona Clube de Portugal, made a strong effort to produce another great run in this spectacular course of Jamor, Oeiras.
In the front line of favourites we find Medhin, the 21-year-old Eritrean who produced a big surprise at the last year’s IAAF World Cross Country Championships by taking the silver medal. Working under the guidance of Jerónimo Bravo in Madrid and training with Zersenay Tadese, Medhin produced a spectacular win last weekend in Atapuerca, Spain, where he defeated Kenyan Joseph Ebuya, the reigning World champion.
In Portugal he will face his countryman Kidane Tadese, the younger brother of Zersenay Tadese, who was third in Atapuerca.
Kenya will be well represented with Edwin Soi, the 2008 Olympic bronze medallist at 10,000m, leading the charge. He’ll be joined by 10,000m standouts Evans Taiget and Peter Kitoo.
Other European athletes targeting Oeiras prior to next month’s continental championship in Albufeira are Italy’s Stefano la Rosa, the national 5000m and 10,000m champion and Daniele Meucci, European 10,000m bronze medallist from Barcelona this year.
Among the Portuguese entrants, the strongest name is Rui Pedro Silva who was sixth at the 2006 European Cross Country Championships. He’ll face his teammates Fernando Silva, Nuno Costa, José Rocha, Rui Teixeira and Ricardo Ribas. All will bring strong international experience to the race. But they have to be cautious with Licinio Pimentel, José Ramos and Sérgio Silva, who are fiercely eying spots on the Portuguese team for Albufeira.
Willis leads women’s field
In the women’s field, the strongest name is Australia’s former World Cross Country champion Benita Willis. The 2004 champion returns to Portugal with fond memories of her bronze medal at 12th IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Vilamoura in 2003. Her main challengers will be Kenya’s Eunice Jepkorir, the 2008 Olympic silver medallist in the 3000m Steeplechase, and road racer Annah Gatheru Wanjiru.
But they have to be careful with the Portuguese girls who are preparing to defend their European team title. In the front line they present newly-minted European 5000m bronze medalist Sara Moreira (11th in Atapuerca last weekend); Anália Rosa, former Portuguese cross country champion, sixth last Sunday in Atapuerca, and European 10000m bronze medalist; and Ana Dias, who was ninth in Atapuerca las week. Dulce Felix, who dropped out of the ING New York City Marathon last weekend, is also expected along with Daniela Cunha and Monica Silva.
Weather forecasters predict a cloudy day on Saturday with no rain expected and with temperatures ranging from 16ºC and 18ºC by the time of the event.
António Manuel Fernandes for the IAAF