(Image (c) El Miron de Soria)

Ethiopia’s Likina claims Cross Country victory in Spain’s Sofia

Ethiopia’s Likina Amebaw was the winner in the closely contested Cross Internacional de Soria race held at altitude (1100m) in Spain on Sunday.

The fifth Gold level meeting of this season’s World Athletics Cross Country Tour had the winners of the contest prevail by the narrowest of margins, per a World Athletics report.

Two-time winner Lucy Mawia took the early lead in the early stages of the women’s event held over 8.8km.

She was followed by just five athletes – Likina and fellow Ethiopian Asayech Ayichew, Italy’s Valentina Gemetto, France’s Alessia Zarbo, and Argentina’s Fedra Luna.

After the first 2.5km lap, Spanish steeplechaser Irene Sánchez-Escribano upped her pace and moved to the front much to the delight of the home crowd.

Mawia once again led the group but was outpaced by Sánchez-Escribano midway through the penultimate lap.

Seven women were in contention at the bell but, surprisingly, Mawia was among the first of those to fade on the last lap and eventually dropped out.

The two Ethiopian contenders stayed in close contact at the pace being set by Gemetto.

In an exciting finish, Asayech upped her pace in the closing kilometer as Gemetto was finally left behind.

However, Likina still had something left in the tank and came through to win in 29:44, one second ahead of Asayesh. Gemetto was third in 30:06.

“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 Likina. “Luckily my tactics paid off.”