AHLETICS: Africans dominate showpiece cross country at Greenmount

Aweke Ayalew won the Men's race.
Aweke Ayalew won the Men's race.

African athletes continued their domination in an afternoon of superb racing at the Antrim International Cross Country at Greenmount.

The Ladies race had been billed as a rematch between Fionnuala McCormack and Kate Avery and so it looked as the pair headed the field in the early stages, although four African stars were poised just behind.

Aweke Ayalew won the Men's race.

Aweke Ayalew won the Men's race.

Alice Aprot Nawowuna from Kenya - running her first cross country - defending champion Birtukan Fente Alema of Ethiopia and 2014 winner Mimi Belete and Ruth Jebet from Bahrain were looking strong.

Belete looked strong but it was 22-year-old Nawowuna, the African 10,000 metres champion, who produced the stronger finish to win by four seconds. Double European champion McCormack worked hard throughout the last circuit to clinch third.

The Men’s race was interesting as holder Thomas Ayeko started strong favourite and the Ugandan came through in a group containing Aweke Ayalew and Evans Chemotot of Bahrain, Damit Wolde of Ethiopia and Thomas Cheruiyot.

It was Ayalew who made the decisive spurt to win narrowly from the defending champion Ayeko with Cheruiyot a close third.

Declan Reed led the home side in 17th with Mark McKinstry 18th.

Seamus Lynch 21st and Paddy Hamilton 24th.

There were good local performances in the earlier races. Olivia Nelson and Edel Monaghan were top two in the U17 Girls, Niamh Heaney took the U15s from Molly Dougan and Rebecca Wallis with Victoria Lightbody third at U13.

In the Boys race, Craig McMeechan and Fintan Stewart were second and third at U17, Peter Murray was second at U15 with Dylan McBride third at U13.

St Coleman’s won the Boys U15 team from Willowfield with Lagan Valley taking the U13 honours ahead of St Michael’s.

City of Lisburn won the U17 Girls and were second at U13 while Charlie Patterson of East Coast and Jodi McMullan of Saints and Scholars won the Flahavans Primary Schools races.