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Bydgoszcz gets the nod

PUNTA UMBRIA, Spain, March 19- The Polish city of Bydgoszcz is the most probable host of the next World Cross Country Championships in 2013.

This was disclosed Saturday by International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) general secretary Pierre Weiss during a press conference ahead of Sunday’s Punta Umbria edition.

“Bydgoszcz who hosted last year’s event have declared interest to host the next World Cross in March 2013 and the mayor of the city is here in Punta Umbria and they are the most likely to host the event. We will announce officially in the next few weeks,” Weiss said.

Asked on the prospects of Bahrain who had also expressed interest to host the same, Weiss said, “They were a good candidate but we were not certain they would have an acceptable course in place.”

Last year, Bydgoszcz hosted the last annual World Cross with this edition in Punta Umbria being the first biennial affair.

During the media briefing, the question of African dominance at the event tagged as the best gathering of elite runners resurfaced with European nations slammed for giving the World Cross a wide berth.

“It’s sad that only Spain (hosts) and Great Britain have full teams here. We saw many European countries send full teams to the European Cross Country but they are not here,” Jose Maria stated.

IAAF President, Lamine Diack, revealed plans were underway to improve the competition through better promotion. He added the decision to make the World Cross biennial was to give continental competitions bigger prominence by ensuring more nations take part in cross country running.

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“This is why we initially introduced the Africa Cross Country Championships in 1985 but the choice of Nairobi was not good due to high altitude. But now, they are back and apart from Kenya and Ethiopia, we want to develop a programme for other countries especially in West and Central Africa that are not good in cross country running to improve,” Diack said.

The Punta Umbria World Cross has attracted 55 nations with over 500 athletes expected to contest for individual and team honours in four events, junior women 6km, junior men 8km, senior women 8km and senior men 12km.

For the first time in the events history, no defending champion will feature and the first race will start at 11:30am local time (1:30pm Kenyan time).  

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