Monday, December 12, 2011

Athletics: Atelaw Yeshetela Bekele Win European XC Titles

Posted by Admin On 11:30 AM

History was made as Belgium's Atelaw Yeshetela Bekele crossed the finish line at the 18th SPAR European Cross Country Championships Sunday in Velenje, Slovenia, with his hands sharp to the heavens. The 24-year-old, formerly of Ethiopia, became the first Belgian athlete to win a European Cross Country Championship gold medal, breaking the tape in 29:15 after foremost the race from wire to wire.

After storming out to an 80 meter lead by 4 km, Bekele seemed to be racing in cruise control. Chased by last year's silver medalist Ayad Lamdassem of Spain and Hassan Chahdi of France, the Belgian's lead would gradually be abridged over the next 5 km.

Since I'm not the best at the finish, I knew I would have to get some advantage at the beginning, if I want to be among the winners,said Bekele in a post-race interview with European Athletics. But, Bekele was able to fend off Lamdassem and Portugal's Jose Rocha, who made late charges trying to catch him in the final lap of the 10 km race.

The last two laps were very hard but luckily I managed to keep my benefit until the very end,Bekele said. Crossing the line first in 29:15, Bekele radically better upon his 54th place showing a year ago in Albufeira, Portugal. In second was Lamdassem, while Rocha rounded out the top three.

Surprisingly, nine-time senior champion Sergey Lebid dropped out with a lap residual. The senior men's team title went to France, whose team scored 34 points and was led by Chahdi, who ended fourth.


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