SAN GIORGIO SU LEGNANO, Italy, January 4- In form Edwin Soi, the African 5,000m champion, has a steep battle on his hands on Friday during the 55th running of the Campaccio International Cross Country in Italy.
Soi who has already racked up victories in Corrida of Houilles near Paris and the star-studded Boclassic in Bolzano on New Year’s Eve faces reigning World Cross champion, Imane Merga (Ethiopia) and compatriot Vincent Chepkok who won bronze in Punta Umbria.
Merga, who scooped the Samsung Diamond League in the 5,000m for the second year in a row last season won bronze over 10,000m in Daegu comes to Campaccio on the back of a narrow win over Kidane Tadese in Atapuerca last November.
Chepkok placed fourth in that race and won in Soria on November 20, but Soi who out-kicked fellow African 10,000m champion as well as World Half Marathon titleholder, Wilson Kiprop for glory on New Year’s Eve remains the man to beat.
Soi is in top shape and will be looking to claim his second win in San Giorgio su Legnano where he took the honours in 2008 and then went on to win the Olympic bronze medal at 5000m in Beijing later that year.
The 2012 Campaccio will be a re-match of the Boclassic where Soi beat Merga who carried a minor foot injury and had to settle for third place.
In the women’s race, reigning Africa Cross and 2010 World Cross junior champion, Mercy Cherono has a date with veteran Daegu 5,000m silver winner, Sylvia Kibet and Ethiopian Birtukan Adamu.
Cherono enjoyed an impressive youth and junior career winning the two World junior titles in the 3000m in 2008 and 2010, World junior silver in the 5000m in 2010 and a World youth gold in the 3000m in 2007.
During the last track season she finished fifth in the Daegu World Championships final where Kibet won the silver medal taking her second consecutive world silver medal.
Cherono and Kibet will renew their battle in San Giorgio su Legnano on Friday.
The Kenyan duo will take on Birtukan Adamu who won the World junior silver medal in the 3000m Steeplechase and broke the World junior record over this distance clocking 9:20.37 at Rome’s Golden Gala last May.
Silvia Weissteiner, European Indoor 3000m bronze medallist in 2007 and World Championships seventh placer in the 5000m in 2009, will carry the major Italian hopes especially after her convincing third place at the Bolzano Boclassic last Saturday.