The upcoming Cross Internacional de Itálica, set against the scenic backdrop on the outskirts of Seville, is gearing up for a thrilling showcase this Sunday (12) as it proudly holds its place as the fourth Gold standard meeting in the ongoing World Athletics Cross Country Tour.
In the highly-anticipated 9.9km women’s race, all eyes are on Beatrice Chebet from Kenya, the reigning world cross-country and 5km champion. Following her triumph in Atapuerca just a fortnight ago, the 23-year-old is determined to secure her first victory at Itálica, having finished as the runner-up in 2020 and securing third place the following year.
Teaming up with Chebet is fellow Kenyan Edinah Jebitok, whose prowess was evident with an eighth-place finish at the World Cross in Bathurst and a strong third-place performance in Atapuerca. The women’s field also features Ethiopia’s Senayet Getachew, the World U20 cross-country champion, and Wede Kefale, who earned the 15th spot in the senior women’s race at this year’s World Cross. Uganda’s Anne Chelangat, a formidable contender, secured 13th place at the World Cross and claimed third place last week in San Sebastián.
Adding an international flair, Nadia Battocletti, the World and Olympic finalist, will make her debut appearance in Santiponce after an impressive fifth-place finish in the 5km at the World Road Running Championships. The lineup is further enriched by Spanish steeplechasers Irene Sánchez-Escribano and Carolina Robles, European U20 cross-country champion María Forero, and Britain’s rising star Amelia Quirk.
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Shifting focus to the men’s 9.9km contest, a gripping three-way battle is anticipated between Kenyan athletes Ronald Kwemoi and Ishmael Kipkurui, accompanied by Burundi’s Rodrigue Kwizera. Kwemoi, returning for the third time to Spanish soil, narrowly secured victory in San Sebastián last Sunday, outpacing Kipkurui in a sprint finish.
Hillary Chepkwoni, fresh from an outstanding performance at the Valencia Half Marathon, adds to the competitive edge of the men’s field. Meanwhile, Kwizera, co-winner of the World Cross Country Tour, aims to build on his eighth-place finish at the World Cross Country Championships.
Eritrea’s Aron Kifle, the 2018 world half marathon bronze medallist, is set to make his cross country debut in 2023, alongside compatriot Merhawi Mebrahtu, the world U20 5000m silver medallist.
Spain’s Mohamed Katir, the world 5000m silver medallist, leads the charge for the Spanish contingent, which includes Abdessamad Oukhelfen, Adel Mechaal, Sergio Paniagua, and the versatile Adrian Ben, fresh from a cross-country victory in Lugo.
The star-studded lineup also features prominent middle-distance specialists such as Niels Laros from the Netherlands and Britain’s Callum Elson, the newly-crowned world mile silver medallist.
Santiponce’s rich history of hosting legends like Kenenisa Bekele, Fernando Mamede, Paul Kipkoech, Paul Tergat, Moses Kipsiro, Leonard Komon, Linet Masai, and Paula Radcliffe adds to the excitement. Weather forecasters predict a sunny and calm day, creating the perfect setting for a riveting competition.