Bezabeh on the Hyères medal trail

Bezabeh on the Hyères medal trail
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Alemayehu Bezabeh won gold in the individual and team competitions at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Belgrade two years ago.

Alemayehu Bezabeh, who has a brilliant record of consistency at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships, will go in pursuit of more medals when he leads the Spanish men in Hyères on 13 December.

A five-times gold medallist, twice as individual champion, three times in the team competition, Bezabeh will be at forefront of a strong senior squad which also includes Ayad Lamdassem, who won silver in 2010, Antonio Abadía, Adel Mechaal and Ilias Fifa.

Spain have named 33 athletes and will have a team in every race, except the women’s under-23s.

Bezabeh first won senior men’s team gold in Brussels in 2008 before 12 months later taking the individual title in Dublin when he triumphed by 17 seconds in 30:45 from Great Britain’s Mo Farah.

Spain also won team gold that day too and four years later Bezabeh was able to repeat the double in Belgrade.

He was outpaced by Turkish pair Polat Kemboi Arikan and Ali Kaya in Samokov last December but still made the podium in third and will be a strong contender once more.

Trihas Gebre was 13th in the senior women’s race in Samokov and then had a fine run at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships where she was the first European in 15th. Now she is joined in the Spanish women’s team by Lidia Rodríguez, Diana Martín Giménez and Iris Fuentes-Pila and they are in with a good shout of making the top three.

Spain finished fifth in the table at last year’s SPAR European Cross Country Championships with four silvers and a bronze - with two of those medals won by Carlos Mayo, who finished runner-up in the men’s junior race as his nation took that team prize too.

Now 20, he returns with the new challenge of the under-23 race.

It is in that age category where Belgium will be look for their biggest medal hopes, as both Isaac Kimeli and Louise Carton have excelled so far this year in the CrossCup series.

Belgium are sending 15 runners to France, 11 men and four women, and they will have two teams - a men’s senior and junior. Veerle Dejaeghere is their sole senior woman.

Sweden have named a squad of 12 - 10 men and two men - with Sarah Lahti, 20, one of their big hopes in the under-23 race.

Bronze medallist in last year’s senior women’s race, Meraf Bahta of Sweden is forced to withdraw as she recovers from a foot injury, while  Eurocross regular Almensch Belete has been scratched from the Belgian team due to a virus which has prevented her from training properly for Hyères.