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Africa’s best in town
- Updated: March 16, 2012
With the second edition of the Africa Cross-Country Championships set to take place on Sunday at Keurboom Park in Cape Town and the absence of a World Championships this year, stiff competition awaits all athletes at this prestigious event.
Here’s a look at the senior men’s and women’s races:
South Africa’s Elroy Gelant will compete at his first international cross-country event after returning from the World Indoor Championships that took place in Istanbul from 9-11 March.┬á Gelant set a new South African record in the 3000 metres when he crossed the line in 7:48.64.
Gelant comfortably won the trials in Potchefstroom on 18 February but did not join the team in Mauritius for the Southern Region Cross Country Championships on 3 March as he competed in the 5000m at the second Yellow Pages Interprovincial in Bellville.
Gelant made no secret of the fact that his athletics season has not officially started yet, but what he has achieved so far motivates him to qualify for the Olympic Games in London.┬á ÔÇ£I am aware that Sunday will be a big challenge, but my main goal is to be as competitive possible as individual and as a team.ÔÇØ
ÔÇ£Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Eritrea will be our biggest competition,ÔÇØ said Gelant, ÔÇ£mainly because of their cohesion and ability to do so well as a team.ÔÇØ┬á Gelant will be joined by David Manja, Boy Soke, Lungisa Mdadelwa, Dean Brummer and Kgosi Tsosane.
Teklemariam Medhin is one of the Eritreans who can be a thorn in the flesh of Team South Africa. With six cross-country world championships behind his name (two as junior athlete in 2006 and 2007 in Fukuoka and Kenya) his experience will go a long way to assist his team in running for a team prize.┬á He also helped his team finish fourh at the 2011 World Championships in Spain by finishing 14th overall.┬á In 2010 at the World Cross-Country Championships in Bydgoszcz Medhim won the silver medal.┬á In 2008 he represented Eritrea in Edinburgh, 2009 in Amman.
Sudan’s only team, a senior men’s team, includes Adam Abdelmunaim.┬áHe is not a newcomer to Cape Town, having competed as a junior last year where he finished seventh.┬áThis 19 year-old went to the World Cross-Country Championships from 2009-2011 (Amman, Bydgoszcz and Spain) where he represented Sudan.┬áHis 31st place finish last year was his best at a World Cross Country Championship as a junior athlete.
With Zambia sending only three senior men (and two junior women) to compete in Cape Town, Tony Wamulwa is their most experienced athlete on paper.┬áAt the first Africa Cross-Country Championships in Cape Town in 2011 Wamulwa finished seventh.
Abebech Afework Bekele┬áis probably the most experienced athlete in the Ethiopian camp as she competed at the 2010 world champs where she finished 14th.┬áIn the same year she also represented her country at the World Championships in the half-marathon where she finished 14th in 71:38.
South Africa’s Mpho Mabuza, finished second at the national trials a mere two weeks after she won the silver medal at the SA Marathon Championships in George.┬áIn Mauritius at the Southern Region Cross Country Championships she won the gold medal.
Swaziland’s only athlete at the Africa Cross Country Championships Winile Mnisi is also a marathon runner.┬á In 2010 the Commonwealth Games in Delhi she ran her personal best, finishing 13th in 3:18.32.