Sileshi Sihine played down his defeat after suffering an unexpected setback at the hands of unknown Ali Abdosh on the opening day of the Ethiopian Cross Country Championships. Sihine the Olympic and World 10000 metres silver medallist, seemed assured of victory when opening a 15 metres gap with only 300 metres of the four kilometres race remaining. But Abdosh with a devastating turn of finishing speed, flew past the slowing leader to clinch a two seconds win in a time of 11 minutes 37 seconds.
“I was confident that I could catch and beat him,” said the elated short course champion after his unexpected success at Addis Ababa's Jan Meda race course. “I hope to do well in the World Cross Country Championships and maybe earn a top-three finish," he said of his chances when Fukuoka in Japan, hosts them on April 1-2.
Sihine 23, the global long course bronze medallist two years ago, was unperturbed that Abdosh succeeded in decisively passing him when it seemed he had the race sewn-up. “I just wanted to qualify for the championships and did not exert myself,” he explained. “I have enough time to prepare for the World Cross and so I am not worried about my form.”
Kenya's Jonas Cheruiot competing as a guest took third place in 11:42 two seconds ahead of Abebe Dinkessa joint pre-race favourite with Sihine and Gebregziabher Gebremariam, who shared the same time.
Gete Wami winner of her first world crown 10-years ago and a second three years later, finished fourth to clinch the last automatic slot in the women's long course team. The 31-year-old distance running legend who also won the short course gold medal six years ago, ran gamely in the 8K event to finish behind Meselech Melkamu, Chaltu Girma and Mestawo Tufa.