Kenya's Lucy Mawia seeking to defend her title in Alcobendas

ATHLETICS Kenya's Lucy Mawia seeking to defend her title in Alcobendas

Abigael Wafula 18:18 - 25.11.2023

Lucy Mawia failed to finish the race last weekend in Soria and she will be seeking to right her wrongs in Alcobendas.

Defending champion Lucy Mawia will face a stern test as she gears up for her title defence at the Cross Internacional de la Constitucion, the sixth Gold level event in this season’s World Athletics Cross Country Tour, to be held in Alcobendas on the outskirts of Madrid on Sunday, November 26.

Mawia, last season's Cross-Country Tour winner, will aim to retain her 2022 title. She was unable to finish the race last weekend in Soria when she dropped out before reaching the closing kilometre and she will be keen to change the narrative this Sunday.

Likina Amebaw and Asayech Ayichew will prove to be her greatest challengers. The Ethiopian athletes battled hard for victory last weekend in Soria, with the win eventually going to Amebaw after a close sprint finish.

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Amebaw has raced four times this cross-country season with three podium places to her name in Amoberieta and Soria, where she won. She was also in action in Cardiff where she finished second.

As for Ayichew, the relatively unheralded Ethiopian will try to prove that her brilliant performance in Soria was no fluke.

The European response will come from Italy's Nadia Battocletti, the multiple European cross-country medallist who finished fifth in the 5km at last month's World Road Running Championships in Riga.

Meanwhile, the men’s race will see Rodrigue Kwizera take on a strong field. Last year’s World Athletics Cross Country Tour victor was eager to triumph for the first time this season and he managed to do so in Soria last weekend after a thrilling final sprint with Hillary Chepkwony.

Kwizera's stern test will come from Uganda’s Martin Kiprotich who has shown great fitness. In Seville, he came sixth, and also in Soria last Sunday, he fought for the win until the closing stages to finally finish fourth.

Watch out too for Celestin Ndikumana. The Burundian opened the cross-country season in style with a convincing win in Amorebieta and he went on to finish fourth in Atapuerca the following week. However, the 21-year-old couldn't go beyond 13th place in Soria and will try to bounce back in Alcobendas.