Men's Preview for the World Athletics Country Championships Belgrade 2024

Posted by: Watch Athletics

The senior men's division at the upcoming World Cross Country Championships will feature a highly anticipated rematch among last year's top three contenders from Bathurst. Defending champion Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda, along with Joshua Cheptegei, the 2019 Ahrus champion and Bathurst bronze medallist, and Ethiopia's Berihu Aregawi, the 2023 silver medallist, are set to compete.

Cheptegei boasts impressive records, including a 5000 meters world record of 12:35.36 set in Monaco and a 10000 meters record of 26:11.00 in Valencia, both in 2020. His accolades include three world golds in the 10000m (London 2017, Doha 2019, Eugene 2022) and an Olympic 5000m gold in Tokyo 2021. His recent performance includes a second-place finish in the 10 km at Laredo in 26:53.

Kiplimo, who first represented Uganda as its youngest Olympian at 15 during the 2016 Rio Games, claimed the under 20 title at the World Cross Championships in Kampala a year later. Kiplimo, now 23, holds the half marathon world record of 57:31 set in Lisbon in 2021, along with national records in the 3000m, 5000m, and 10000m. After withdrawing from the Budapest 2023 World Championships due to injury, he marked his return with several victories, including the Atapuerca Cross Country Gold Tour race.

Kiplimo's teammates will include Martin Kiprotich, 18th at Bathurst, and Dan Kibet, the African under 20 champion and runner-up at this year's Ugandan Cross Country Championships.

Aregawi aims to be the first Ethiopian to win since 2011. His achievements include a fourth-place finish in the 10000m at the Tokyo Olympics, a Diamond League 5000m victory in Zurich, and setting the 5 km road world record of 12:49 in Barcelona. Aregawi, who also placed in the top ten in both the 10000m and 5000m at recent World Championships, began 2024 with a victory in Elgoibar.

Ethiopia's team also features Tadese Worku, under 20 silver medallist at Ahrus 2019 and 3000m gold medallist in Nairobi 2021, among others including Lisbon Half Marathon winner Dinkalem Ayele and African 10000m silver medallist Chimdessa Debele.

Kenya's Sebastian Sawe, fresh off a world half marathon title in Riga and a victory at the Kenyan Cross Country Trials, leads a strong Kenyan contingent aiming to make their mark. Sawe improved his half marathon personal best to 58:29 in Valencia in 2023.

European prospects include Thierry Ndikumwenayo of Spain, with personal bests in the 3000m and 5000m, and Britain's Will Barnicoat, a double European under 23 cross country champion.

Eritrean hopes rest on Merhawi Mebrathu, world under 20 5000m silver medallist, and others including Aaron Kifle, a top finisher at the 2019 Ahrus Championships.

Celestin Ndikumana leads the Burundian team, aiming to improve upon his performances at the African Games and last year's World Championships.

Australia's Patrick Tiernan and a U.S. team featuring NCAA champion Andrew Rotich are among other notable competitors set to challenge in the senior men's race.


Highlighted participants in the men's under 20 category include Ethiopia's Yismaw Dillu, who placed third at the Ethiopian Trials in Nerja with a time of 27:08.85 and competed in the 10000 meters at the World Championships in Budapest, alongside Samuel Kibathi from Kenya, the 2024 Kenyan Cross Country Championships victor.

Kibathi, who also secured a sixth-place finish in the 5000 meters at the 2022 World under 20 Championships in Cali and a bronze in the 10000 meters at the African under 20 Championships, will be joined by Charles Rotich, who closely trailed him by one second at the Kenyan Cross Country Championships, and Gideon Kipngetich, the men's under 20 African Cross Country Champion.

Ethiopia's team will include Abel Bekele, winner of the Ethiopian cross country Trials and seventh at the World Championships in Bathurst, contributing to Ethiopia's under 20 team silver, and Mezgebu Sime, national under 20 champion in the 5000m.

For over 15 years, all individual under 20 men’s medals have been claimed by athletes from Kenya, Ethiopia, and Uganda, illustrating the dominance of these nations in the category.

Uganda's representation includes Hosea Chemutai, 11th place finisher in Bathurst's under 20 race, and Silas Rotich, fourth at the 2022 World Mountain Running Championships.

Eritrea's Yobiel Yeldrufael leads its team, notable for a ninth-place mile finish at the World Road Running Championships in Riga 2023 and setting a national indoor 1500 meters record of 3:39.09.

The US team is composed of Kole Mathison, who finished 25th in Bathurst contributing to the team bronze, and national under 20 cross country champion Kevin Sanchez.

Europe's top entrants include Great Britain's Henry Dover, sixth in Brussels at the European Cross Country Championships, his teammate James Dargan, fourth over 5000 meters at the European under 20 Championships in Jerusalem 2023, Mesfin Escamilla, Spain's under 20 cross country champion, and Karl Ottfalk from Sweden, fourth at the European Cross Country Championships.

Victor Daniel Perez Igari and Angel Luis Reyes Ramirez took the top two spots at the recent Panamerican Cross Country Championships.

Completing the lineup are Japan's under 20 cross country champion Yamato Hamagachi, Sota Orita, a 13:28.78 performer over 5000 meters, and Australia's under 20 cross country champion Jack Coomber.

In the mixed relay:

Kenya aims to retain their mixed relay title won in Bathurst, featuring three members from the victorious team, including Emmanuel Wanyonyi, an 800 meters prodigy with accolades such as the world under 20 championship in Nairobi 2021 and a silver in Budapest, among others.

Ethiopia's team, led by Hagos Gebrhiwet, a decorated athlete with an Olympic bronze and world medals, recently clinched the 5000 meters at the All-African Games in Accra.

Morocco's squad includes Kaoutar Farkoussi, part of the silver medal-winning team in Ahrus 2019, alongside teammates Hicham Akankam, Hafid Rizqy, and Rahma Tahiri.

The US team comprises Pan American 5000 meters champion Kasey Kneevelbaard, Ella Donaghu, Katie Izzo, and John Reniewicki.

Japan's mixed relay team is spearheaded by Nozomi Tanaka, an eighth-place finisher in the 5000m at Budapest 2023 and holder of multiple national records.

Serbia's Elzan Bibic, European Indoor bronze medallist in the 3000 meters in Istanbul 2023, represents the host team, underscoring his prominence in European middle-distance running.

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