ATHLETICS: Big names added to line-up for International Cross Country at Greenmount

England's Andy Vernon is a regular at Greenmount.
England's Andy Vernon is a regular at Greenmount.

The star studded field for the 41st Antrim International Cross Country at Greenmount on January 6 has been boosted with the announcement of more top names.

Timothy Cheruiyot from Kenya took silver in the World 1,500 metres in London while Soufiane Bakkali of Morocco also claimed silver at steeplechase.

Pieter-Jan Hannes of Belgium is another middle distance star who includes the 2013 Euro Under 23 1,500 gold among his achievements.

Andy Vernon from Aldershot competed in the Olympics at 10,000. He claimed 10,000 silver and 5,000 bronze in the 2014 Europeans. Vernon is a regular top finisher at Greenmount, placing second in 2010, third in both 2013 and 2016 and seventh in 2011.

The entry also includes Deyi Griffiths of Wales, who ran a blistering 2:09:49 in his marathon debut in Frankfurt. He led the European cross country a fortnight ago up to half distance before being forced to withdraw with a hamstring injury.

The Northern Ireland and Ulster teams for the meeting were also announced.

The Men’s team includes Conor Duffy, Glaslough; Neil Johnston, Springwell; Scott Rankin, Foyle Valley; and Eoghan Totten, Newcastle.

The Ladies team is Laura Bickerstaff, Dromore; Rachel Gibson and Katie Moore, both North Down; and Fionnuala Ross, Armagh.

Meanwhile, Paul Pollock will start hot favourite for his fourth consecutive victory in the 32nd Greencastle 5 Miles Road Race in Co Tyrone on Boxing Day.

The Olympic and World representative set the course record of 24 minutes 07 in 2014 and looks to be in great form after coming back from injury.

He took gold in the Irish cross country recently before winning in the Europeans. He set a marathon best of 2:15:31 in Japan this year and should win again.

Scott Rankin and Eoghan Totten have the credentials to dispute the destiny of the other medals.

The action starts with walkers at 10.30 then wheelchairs at 11.50, with the main event going at 12 noon.