Ladies race attracts stellar line-up for Antrim International Cross Country

Fionnuala Britton

Fionnuala Britton

The ladies race at the Antrim International Cross Country at Greenmount Campus on January 4 is going to be one of the best line-ups ever seen outside a major championship.

World champions, Olympic medallists and the cream of present day European and Commonwealth talent will grace the spectacular course in the event, which is organised by Athletics Northern Ireland and sponsored by Antrim Borough Council and Sport Northern Ireland.

Fionnuala Britton is going for her hat-trick of Greenmount victories having been dominant for the last two years.

The Kilcoole runner, the double European champion, was disappointed with her fourth place in Serbia and will be determined to make amends.

Gemma Steel from Charnwood, runner-up to Fionnuala two years ago, has been in tremendous form.

She won the trials in Liverpool and then clinched a brilliant silver medal in the Europeans.

Steel is also a great road runner having been runner-up in the Great Irish Run in Dublin.

Almensea Belete, formerly of Ethiopia and now running for Belgium, placed sixth in Europe after finishing 17th in the Worlds. She was a runaway winner of the Roeslare Cross Country in Belgium.

Maryam Jamal from Bahraine is also a very interesting entry. The 29-year-old is a double World champion over 1,500 metres on the track and took the bronze medal in the London Olympics at that distance behind two Turkish athletes of doubtful pedigree. She has not run much over the country discipline but if conditions are right she could be a revelation.

Charlotte Purdue, the 2011 Greenmount winner, got the bronze medal in the European Under 23s. The 22-year-old has been battling injury for the last two years but is a double Commonwealth and European track finalist and will not be far away.

Add in Kenyan pair Magdalyne Masai and Eunice Kales, third and fifth in the Antrim International last time, plus England’s Stevie Stockton ninth in that race and there is the potential for the greatest ever mass women’s race on Northern Ireland soil.

“This is the strongest line-up that we have had. It will be a fantastic spectacle, the best since the 1999 World Championships at Upper Malone,” said John Allen from Athletics Northern Ireland.

More names, particularly for the men’s race, are expected to be announced shortly after Christmas.




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