Double Olympic champion, Kenenisa Bekele, would 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 International Cross Country on Saturday 7th January.
A key event in athletes’ preparations for the London Olympics saw 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 3k 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 (pictured) the 1500m champion and Brimin Kipruto, winner of the 3000m steeplechase in Beijing.
Fortunately Kiprop, a former World Junior crosscountry 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 9:20.
Thousands of spectators lined the internationally acclaimed course in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park which also featured junior and women’s races. The event was broadcast by the BBC and syndicated internationally whilst the mass participation Great Winter Run attracted increased entries with runners enjoying the party atmosphere of the day.
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