World cross country champion Hellen Obiri is tipped to take the honours in tomorrow’s (Saturday 22nd January) Northern Ireland International Cross Country meeting at the Billy Neill MBE Country Park in Dundonald.
This is part of a World Athletics Silver Cross Country Tour and also incorporates the Celtic Games, Home Countries and British Cross Challenge and the event is supported by Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council.
Underfoot conditions could be challenging for the some 600 athletes competing. However, this will not unduly concern the 32 year old Kenyan as she defeated the best in World Cross Country 2 years ago in Denmark. She won by 2 secs from Didi of Ethiopia in very slippery conditions.
Hellen is better renowned for her track achievements which have made her one of the successful world class athletes in recent years. This has included two world 5,000m titles and two Olympic Silver medals; the latest being in the Tokyo Olympics where she lost to multi gold medallist Sifan Hassan.
The English challenge will come from 30-year-old Kate Avery who has an outstanding 2 individual European medals to her credit. She was also 7th the last Dundonald outing two years ago.
Just behind her in that race was Scotland’s Mhari MacLennan who should do well again along with Ireland’s Una Britton.The local NI challenge should come from Armagh’s Fionnuala Ross and Nikita Burke who was 3rd in the recent big Seeley Cup 10k.
The Men’s 10k event should be a battle between Kenyan pair Vincent Keter and Kamar Etiang. 19 year old Keter is the World Junior 1,500m Champion with a PB of under 3 mins 38 secs.
Even that time is surpassed by 19 year old Etiang who has a World Junior leading time of 3.33.12.
An interesting entry is Belfast’s Stephen Scullion who has carried all before him in marathons in recent times. In 2020 the 33-year-old famously took the Irish marathon record from Olympic medallist John Treacy with a time of 2.09.49. The Under Armour athlete has been taking time out after the Tokyo Olympics before a challenging year which includes either the World Champs or Commonwealth Games.
Other key athletes who should feature include England’s Zak Mahamed who finished a superb 9th in the recent Euro Champs in Dublin. Also competing is team mate Hugo Milner who won the Cardiff Cross Challenge.
Main local challenge should come from new star Eskander Turki, Conor Duffy who was 17th two years ago and NI’s Matthew Neill who was runner up in the Seeley Cup in December.
Racing starts at Dundonald at 10.55am with the Senior International races from 2.15 pm. All visitors are asked to follow the COVI guidelines and check the Site Map for facility details.
DIGITAL PROGRAMME: https://athleticsni.org/download/files/InternationalXC-2022Programme.pdf
The full event will be live streamed via the Athletics NI Youtube channel, which you can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57HaSXGR1dY
More information can be found on our website: https://athleticsni.org/Fixtures/World-Athletics-Northern-Ireland-International-Cross-Country