Ethiopia’s Likina Ambaw wins the Cross Internacional de Soria meeting in Spain
Addis Ababa, November 20, 2023 (FBC) – Ethiopia’s Likina Amebaw narrowly outruns her compatriot Asayech Ayichew to claim a hard fought victory at the Cross Internacional de Soria – the fifth Gold level meeting of this season’s World Athletics Cross Country Tour – held at altitude (1100m) in Soria, Spain, on a sunny and pleasant Sunday (19).
In the women’s race, held over 8.8km, two-time winner Lucy Mawia took the early lead in the early stages with just five athletes following her: Amebaw and fellow Ethiopian Asayech Ayichew, Italy’s Valentina Gemetto, France’s Alessia Zarbo and Argentina’s Fedra Luna.
The pace of the lead group slowed down in the following kilometres, and the pack had grown to 20 women by the time the clock read eight minutes.
To the delight of the home crowd, Spanish steeplechaser Irene Sánchez-Escribano moved to the front after the first 2.5km lap (covered in 8:30), closely followed by Gemetto and Mawia. Soon after, Mawia once again took control of the rhythm but her lead was short-lived as Sánchez-Escribano and her training-mate Carolina Robles, an Olympic finalist in the steeplechase in 2021, regained the lead midway through the penultimate lap, which was covered in a slightly quicker 8:28.
At the bell, seven women remained in contention. Somewhat surprisingly, Mawia was among the first of those to fade on the last lap and she eventually dropped out. The leading Spanish contenders, meanwhile, couldn’t maintain the pace being set by Gemetto but Ayichew and Amebaw stayed in close contact.
In an exciting finish, Ayichew upped her pace in the closing kilometre as Gemetto was finally left behind. Amebaw still had something left in the tank, though, and came through to win by one second in 29:44, achieving her second victory of the season. Gemetto held on for third place, five seconds ahead of fast-finishing Spaniard Marta García.
“Before the start, I didn’t feel at my 100% so I decided to see how the race would develop and not push too hard at any time,” said Amebaw, who will likely race in Alcobendas next weekend. “Luckily my tactics paid off.”