Belfast Telegraph

World champion Korir back to defend Greenmount title

By Brian Hill

World Cross Country champion Japhet Korir of Kenya will defend his Greenmount Cross Country International title at Antrim on March 14.

Organisers Athletics NI pulled off a tremendous coup last year as it was the first time a current world champion had featured in the 36-year history of the event.

The late timing of this year's meeting will suit Korir as he is hoping to gain selection again for Kenya to defend his world title in China two weeks later.

The African caused a sensation in March 2013 in Bydgoszcz, Poland when, as a 19-year-old, he became the youngest ever winner of the senior title.

Korir had previously taken bronze in the world junior race in 2010 but was then injured for a lengthy period.

In Poland he showed a maturity beyond his years to eventually break away over an energy-sapping muddy and snow-covered course .

Korir secured victory by six seconds from defending champion Imane Merga of Ethiopa.

Korir fought a ferocious battle with two other Africans over the difficult Greenmount course last January, and in a sprint finish just edged out the previous year's winner Thomas Akeyo of Uganda.

The quality of the race was such that European bronze medallist Andy Vernon could only finish in sixth place.

After Greenmount, Korir ran a PB in a half marathon in Belgium and followed this with victory in the big Spar 10K road race in Dublin.

There is intense speculation that former double European champion Fionnuala Britton - twice a winner at Greenmount - will also compete.

The Greenmoount meeting will attract 1,200 competitors in the various events, which include a Home Nations international.

Previous big-name competitors include Steve Ovett, Steve Cram, Brendan Foster, John Treacy, Paula Radcliffe and Paul Tergat.

Belfast Telegraph

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