Edinah Jebitok on her way to winning in Hannut (© AFP / Getty Images)
Edinah Jebitok on her way to winning in Hannut (© AFP / Getty Images)

Cross Country Tour leaders Kwizera, Jebitok and Amebaw look to end season on a high in Albufeira

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Rodrigue Kwizera, Edinah Jebitok and Likina Amebaw, the current leaders in the World Athletics Cross Country Tour standings, will be aiming for a final flourish in the last Gold meeting of the season when they compete at the Cross Internacional das Amendoeiras em Flor in Albufeira on Sunday (25).

As has been the case many times before, the event doubles as the European Champion Clubs Cup event, which means there’s a large contingent of European athletes entered.

There are also – as is the case for Kwizera, Jebitok and Amebaw – several international athletes set to compete, as they happen to be members of European clubs.

Jebitok and Amebaw are currently tied at the top of the women’s Cross Country Tour standings, and both have already amassed the highest score possible.

Regardless of who finishes where on Sunday, it won’t prevent either one from being declared joint winners of the tour. But both will be keen to earn bragging rights with a victory in Albufeira.

Kenya’s Jebitok won in Seville in November, then Venta de Banos in December and Hannut in January. Spain-based Ethiopian Amebaw, meanwhile, won the Cross Country Tour Gold races in Amorebieta, Soria and Alcobendas, as well as taking victory at the recent Monaco Run 5km in 14:35.

In their only clash of the season, in Atapuerca, Jebitok finished comfortably ahead of Amebaw.

Anjelina Nadai Lohalith to defend title

Last year’s European Champion Clubs Cup winner Anjelina Nadai Lohalith, who competes internationally for the Athlete Refugee Team, will defend her title. After her victory last year, the 29-year-old went on to set a 5000m PB of 15:33.85 in the summer.

Spanish steeplechaser Irene Sanchez-Escribano, African U20 3000m champion Asmarech Anley of Ethiopia, and Portugal’s Mariana Machado will also likely feature at the top end of the race.

Rodrigue has won the senior men’s race at the European Champion Clubs Cup for the past two years. The Burundian runner has been in fine form this cross-country season too, with wins in Soria and Alcobendas contributing to his current lead in the tour standings. A win this weekend in Albufeira will give him an unassailable lead in the tour.

His main opposition for individual honours will likely come from club-mate Thierry Ndikumwenayo, who finished a close second to Kwizera at the Spanish Cross Country Championships at the end of January.

Uganda’s 2022 world 5000m bronze medallist Oscar Chelimo was runner-up behind Kwizera at the European Champion Clubs Cup last year, so he’ll be highly motivated this time around.

Kenya’s 2018 world U20 5000m champion Edward Zakayo and Vincent Rono, who placed seventh at the 2017 World Cross, will also likely be in contention, as will Portugal’s Rui Pinto.

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