Simpson selected

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Banchory athlete Robbie Simpson has qualified for next month’s Great Edinburgh International cross-country match but has missed out on the chance to compete against Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele because of a change tot he rules.

Ethiopia’s Bekele, the Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m champion, is one of a host of leading overseas athletes taking part in the annual Holyrood Park meeting on January 7.

Kenyans Asbel Kiprop and Brimin Kipruto, winners of the 1,500m and 3,000m steeplechase at the Beijing Games, are among the other big names who will be running in what is widely regarded as one of the world’s best cross-country gathering.

Simpson has been selected to represent the East of Scotland select team in the Scottish inter-district championships which also take place at Holyrood Park that day.

But while the inter-district competition has traditionally been held within the international race, on this occasion they will be run as separate events.

It is disappointing news for Simpson who will miss out on the chance to go up against one of the all-time greats of distance running.

This year’s inter-district race has also been reduced from its usual 8.2km to 6km.

While Simpson will be competing over the 6km, Bekele and the other internationals will tackle a 3km course in what should be an exciting race which also features an international team challenge between the Aviva Great Britain and Nothern Ireland side, the United States and a European select.

Scottish champion Derek Hawkins has been included in the British team for the men’s international race while four Scots, Freya Murray, Steph Twell, Amy Campbell and Laura Muir have been picked for the women’s event.