Ethiopian distance runner Hagos Gebrhiwet (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Bydgoszcz, Poland

Gebrhiwet the gold medal favourite – Bydgoszcz 2013 junior men's preview

You have to turn the clock back more than two decades to find an IAAF World Cross Country Championships junior men's winner who came from somewhere other than Ethiopia and Kenya, and the overwhelming odds are that a teenager from one of these two countries will again triumph in Bydgoszcz on Sunday (24).

The role of being the slight favourite falls on the young shoulders of Hagos Gebrhiwet on the basis of the Ethiopian's two outings since the start of the year.

Still just 18, Gebrhiwet clocked a World junior indoor 3000m record of 7:32.87 in Boston at the start of last month and then was an impressive winner at the Ethiopian Trials in Addis Ababa three weeks later on 24 February.

He is yet to stand on the podium at a continental or global championships, having finished fourth in the junior race at last year's African Cross Country Championships, but he has improved alarmingly since the start of last summer and ran a World junior 5000m record of 12:47.53 at the Samsung Diamond League meeting in Paris before going on to make the London 2012 Olympic Games final over the same distance.

Among those bidding to come home in front of the favoured Gebrhiwet are two men who already know what it is like to be crowned as a World champion after their exploits at the 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona last summer.

Kenya's Conseslus Kipruto was an outstanding winner of the 3000m Steeplechase in Barcelona and returned to Spain for two cross-country races in January where he acquitted himself very well against top quality senior opposition, although he only finished sixth at the Kenyan trails last month.

Ethiopia's Muktar Edris took the 5000m title in the Catalan city last July and showed he was in great shape when he rattled off three successive victories at high-quality Italian cross-country races in January.

A minor leg problem in February restricted his training ahead of the Ethiopian trails and he could only come home fifth there, but he believes he has now got over the aches and pains of last month and is looking to make a significant improvement on his seventh place at the last World Cross Country Championships two years ago.

The highest finisher from 2011 who will be back on the start line of the junior men's race is Ethiopia's Bonsa Dida.

After finishing fourth as a 16-year-old in the Spanish town of Punta Umbria, Dida struggled to find his best form in 2012 but his results from the start of this year, including third place at the Ethiopian trails, suggest he could be a factor again.

Kenya has won the junior men's team title on every occasion since 1988, except for 1998 when Ethiopia took the honours, but in Bydgoszcz the latter may have as good a chance as they have ever had in the last 15 years to regain the crown in this category.

Phil Minshull for the IAAF