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Ethiopian duo targeting glory at Antrim international

By Brian Hill

Athletics NI has confirmed that two World Championship medallists from Ethiopia will race at the Greenmount Cross Country International in Antrim on January 16.

The 2013 World 10,000m and World Cross Country bronze medallist Belaynesh Oljira will compete over the Greenmount Campus course along with team-mate Etagegu Woldu, who took bronze last March in the Junior event at the World Cross Country Championships in China.

These two will be the latest top Africans to compete in Ireland's top cross country event which is now in its 37th year.

Oljira has an illustrious world class pedigree in a variety of running events.

In the World Cross Country in Poland two years ago the 25-year-old took bronze in the Women's Senior event as she finished only five seconds behind winner Emily Chebet of Kenya.

Five months later she showed her versatility by again snatching bronze in the World 10,000 metres in Moscow behind multi world record holder Tirunesh Dibaba.

This year Oljira finished ninth in the World Cross in China, but was still unable to make the winning team such is the depth of talent in Ethiopian cross country.

She also has a classy marathon time of 2 hrs 24 mins to her credit.

Nineteen-year-old Wolde hit the spotlight in the World Cross last March when she secured bronze medal in the Junior event, only five seconds behind winning team mate Letesenbet Gidney.

Wolde's Ethiopian team took the first four places which had only been achieved once before. Etagegu is currently in top form as shown by her recent World junior leading time of 15.24 in a 5k road race in France.

The Greenmount organisers will be aiming to attract many of the top GB names to this meeting particularly as it is once again part of the British Cross Challenge series.

The event also includes the Home Countries International.

In last year's Women's race World 10,000 metres competitor Steph Twell, who won at Greenmount in 2009, took the runner up spot behind Fente Alemu of Ethiopia.

This is one of only 12 IAAF World Cross Country permits and is supported for the eighth successive year by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.

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