Two world class Africans will be showcasing their talent in the men’s races at the Antrim IAAF Cross Country event on Saturday.
Among the impressive list of athletes going for glory are Kenyans Dennis Masai and Titus Mbishei.
Masai (19) became the World Junior 10,000m champion in Canada in July while Mbishei just missed a medal when finishing fourth over 10,000m in last October’s Commonwealth Games in Delhi. In 2008 Mbishei recorded a world class 10,000m time of 27.31.65 when taking silver in the World Junior Championships.
His cross country form is equally impressive with a silver medal in the World Junior Cross Country. Both men will join last year’s Antrim winner Mike Kigen of Kenya and GB&NI number two cross country runner Andy Vernon in the event.
Ethiopians Desene Gebremeskel and Ali Abdosh have had to withdraw along with female contender Aheza Kiros.
While the strong GB contingent is lead by Vernon, he is now joined by the next top finisher in last month’s European Cross Country in Portugal.
Cannock’s Tom Humphries was 15th in Albufeira and will be making every effort at Antrim to contain the African challenge.
In the women’s 5K event, the line-up will now include GB international Laura Kenney who was ninth in last year’s race.
Athletics Northern Ireland has named a full men and women’s team to compete at the International event.
Annadale’s Paddy Hamilton was first NI finisher (17th) at the Irish Inter-Counties in November followed closely by Andrew Agnew (Abbey) in 20th and clubmate Eddie McGinley (22nd).
They will be joined by Jarleth Falls who was second at the Junior Cross Country in Stormont last weekend, Robin Brown (North Down) who was third and Declan Reed (City of Derry) who won the Masters event, making up the six-man team.
The ladies team includes recent NI & Ulster Masters cross country winner Cathy McCourt of North Belfast Harriers.
She will be joined by Gladys Ganiel O’Neill who was the first female home in the recent Lough 5 road race and second NI finisher in last year’s event.
Intermediate winner from the Stormont event was Lauren Scott of North Down who will join the team along with Julie Turley (Dromore AC) who was 12th in the Irish Inter Counties Cross Country.
Breege Connolly (NBH) winner of the Armagh 10 and Sharon Bird (NBH), winner of the Bobby Rea Cross Country are included. The event will start at 11am with a number of Junior races and the International programme starts at 1.30pm. For more information, visit www.niathletics.org