Athletics: Bekele seeks clean sweep

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The Independent Online

The second and concluding day of the 2006 World Cross Country Championships is sure to be a historic one at the Fukuoka Seaside Holiday Park in Japan today. At the age of 23, Kenenisa Bekele has the chance to complete a fifth successive long-course and short-course double, having sprinted to victory in the 4km truncated event yesterday, winning by a second from Isaac Songok of Kenya in 10min 54sec.

Victory in the 12km event would make it a clean sweep of 10 world cross country titles since Bekele graduated to the senior ranks in 2002. Defeat for the Ethiopian would give the rest of the world a crown to cling to before the men's and women's short-course events are dropped from the programme for the 2007 championships in Mombasa.

Tirunesh Dibaba is also on course for an Ethiopian double, having overhauled the Kenyan-born Dutchwoman Lornah Kiplagat late in the women's 7.7km long-course race. Mara Yamauchi, fresh from her bronze-medal run in the Commonwealth Games 10,000m in Melbourne, finished 23rd - the first counter for a British squad who finished seventh in the team race.

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