British and Irish aces eye up Dundonald joy
A plethora of British and Irish athletes will be competing in tomorrow's International Cross Country at the Billy Neill Country Park in Dundonald.
This meeting has temporarily replaced the usual IAAF international, which could not be scheduled for the normal January date due to fixture congestion. The IAAF meeting will recommence in 2021.
The organisers have still managed to attract an array of classy athletes for the 5k women's and 8k men's events.
Rio Olympics and World Championship steeplechaser Michelle Finn of Clonliffe is included in the women's line-up.
The 29-year-old is a seasoned cross country runner and has represented Ireland in the last five European Championships. She is, however, likely to come under serious pressure from Poland's Anna Gosk, who finished 14th in last year's Europeans in Portugal and recently ran a personal best marathon time of two hours, 35 minutes in Frankfurt.
Others in the mix include Edinburgh's Mhari McLennan, who was a superb eighth at Dundonald last January behind several world-class Africans and 32nd in this year's World Cross Country Championships.
The NI team includes North Down's Rachel Gibson, who was 13th in the recent Dublin International. Also racing is Comber Cup winner Rebekah Nixon, who was an impressive 13th earlier this year at Dundonald.
The men's line-up includes Emile Cairess of Leeds AC, who is on a high after his GB U23 best 10-mile time of 47.32 in the Great South Run.
The Euro U23 10,000m bronze medallist set a personal best of 13 minutes, 37 seconds when winning the 5,000m in the Belfast International in the summer.
City of Derry Spartans' Conor Bradley is also in excellent form following his victory in the Spar International in Dublin. He will be supported on the NI team by North Belfast's Mark McKinstry, and Glaslough's Conor Duffy completes the team.
Clonliffe's Sergiu Ciobanu is a seasoned Irish international marathon competitor and finished eighth in the Dublin Marathon recently. He has also raced three times in the European Cross Country Championships.
Clonmel's Kevin Maunsell finished 38th in the Euro Cross last year.
Meanwhile, Derry Track Club's Conor McIlveen failed to qualify for today's final of the T38 400m at the World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai.
In his heat, McIlveen finished seventh in a time of 58.86 seconds which is short of his season's best of 57.84 seconds. The race was won by Iraq's Ali Al-Rikabi in a personal best of 53.13.