Ethiopian youngsters were to the fore at the Cross Ouest France in Le Mans on Sunday (17) with reigning world junior cross country champion Letesenbet Gidey, 17, claimed top honours when winning the women’s 6.3km race in 20:56.
She came home ahead of fellow Ethiopian teenagers Alemitu Hawi (21:00) and Dera Dida (21:01); the latter had finished second to Gidey in Guiyang last March.
The leading French finisher behind no less than six Ethiopians was Aurore Guerin, who pipped European 10,000m silver medallist Clemence Calvin for the domestic honours in seventh place. They shared the same time of 21:35.
In the men’s 10.4km, 17-year-old Abadi Embaye – who can already boast a 5000m best of 13:13.17 – claimed victory in 30:36 ahead of Kenya’s Cornelius Kangogo (30:39) and Bahrain’s Birhanu Yemataw (30:41).
Gidey and Embaye are both eligible for the IAAF World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, this summer and the junior races at the 2017 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Kampala, Uganda.
At the other end of the age spectrum, 42-year-old Veerle Dejaeghere won the Abdijcross in Kerkrade in the Netherlands.
Competing over 7.4km, the Rio-bound Belgian claimed victory in 26:54 ahead of Poland’s Dominika Napieraj (27:01) and fellow Belgian Almensh Belete (27:21).
Dejaeghere first competed at the 2000 Olympics in the 1500m where she narrowly missed out on a place in the final but the veteran will be contesting the marathon later this year after clocking a qualifying time of 2:31:56 on her debut in Berlin last autumn.
In the men’s race, Belgian-based Ethiopian Dame Tasama won the men’s 10.5km in 33:06 ahead of Dutchmen Khalid Choukoud (33:17) and Michel Butter (33:26).
Butter missed the Dutch marathon qualifying standard of 2:11:00 by an agonising eight seconds in the Amsterdam Marathon in October but the 30-year-old, whose PB of 2:09:58 dates back to 2012, is getting ready for the Rotterdam Marathon this coming April, where he will be endeavouring to finally secure the qualifying mark.
Steven Mills for the IAAF