ATHLETICS: Paul Pollock looking to defend his title at Greencastle Road Race

Maria McCambridge is a strong contender in the Women's event
Maria McCambridge is a strong contender in the Women's event

Paul Pollock goes for back-to-back victories in the 30th running of the Greencastle Boxing Day 5 Miles Road Race in County Tyrone which is expected to attract up to 1,000 participants.

The Annadale Strider clocked 24 minutes 07 last year to break Gareth Turnbull’s record and looks set to go close again.

He came third in the Irish Cross Country Championships before competing in the Europeans.

He has qualified for the Rio Olympic Marathon with his 2:15:38 set in Berlin and has a great blend of speed and stamina.

Northern Ireland and Ulster champion Declan Reed, Keith Shiels – twice a medallist at Greencastle – and Scott Rankin – fifth last year – will all challenge while Omagh star Stephen Duncan is another possibility.

Martin Fagan and Conor Duffy, two rostrum positions last time, may fancy the competition again.

The ladies’ race is building up to be the clash of the year as Maria McCambridge and Ann-Marie McGlynn go head-to-head in a dramatic confrontation.

McCambridge has an amazing record in this race with six victories between 2007 and 2013.

The Olympic and World representative has won every National title on offer and is practically unbeatable on this course.

McGlynn came first in the Masters International Cross Country at Santry. She also claimed victory in the Seeley Cup after a duel with Kerry O’Flaherty and was the winner of both the Titanic and Queens races.

Last year’s Greencastle winner Heather Foley and North West Cross Country champion Julie Butler are also expected to compete in a mouth watering race.

There is an extensive prize list in all categories in the event which is sponsored by many local businesses.

The course is mainly flat and fast apart form the vicious ‘heartbreak hill’ coming to the fourth mile.

The main event starts at 1pm. The wheelchairs are at 12.50pm and there is also an early walk at 11am.

p Lord Coe’s campaign for the IAAF presidency was helped by a donation from Chelsea, a spokesman for the peer has confirmed.

Coe is a long-time supporter of Chelsea and a paid consultant for the club – it appears on his House of Lord’s register of interests – and the Chelsea board agreed to provide some funds for his campaign. The club was one of several private donors, and he also received £63,000 from UK Sport for his campaign.

A spokesman for Coe said the Chelsea donation had been agreed by the board and not the club’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich.

The confirmation comes after Nick Davies, Coe’s right-hand man at the IAAF, has stepped aside from his role as the director of the president’s office while he is investigated by the IAAF’s ethics commission.

Davies faces allegations of unethical behaviour after the French newspaper Le Monde obtained a copy of an email sent by him in which he appears to discuss delaying the identification of Russian drug cheats in the run-up to the 2013 World Championships in Moscow.

In the email sent to Papa Massata Diack - the son of former president Lamine Diack and who has rejected allegations of alleged extortion and bribery - Davies appears to look to minimise the impact of naming Russian athletes who have failed drug tests.

Davies, who denies any wrongdoing, said in a statement: “I have decided to step aside from my role with the IAAF until such time as the ethics board is able to review the matter properly and decide if I am responsible for any breach of the IAAF code of ethics.’’