Current World Cross Country champion Japhet Korir of Kenyan will race in the Greenmount Cross Country International at Antrim this Saturday (International events from 1.40pm).
This represents a tremendous coup for the organisers of this IAAF event sponsored by Antrim Borough Council and Sport NI. It is first time in the 36-year-old history of this meeting to feature a current World Champion. With double European champion Fionnuala Britton racing in the Women's event, the meeting is shaping up to be one of the highest quality ever.
Korir caused a sensation last March in Bydgoszcz, Poland, when the 19-year-old became the youngest ever winner of the Senior World title. Japhet, who took the bronze medal in the World Junior race in 2010, was taking part in only his third race of the year following injury.
However, the Kenyan showed no lack of race sharpness when he dictated the pace with the leaders over an energy sapping mud and snow covered course. On the final hill he broke away to secure a six second winning margin over 2011 champion Imane Merga with former Stormont champion Moses Kipsoro of Uganda taking fourth.
Korir said: "Despite the difficult conditions, I managed to achieve this great success and being one of my first senior races makes this success the sweeter."
Since then, Korir recorded a personal best time over 10k in Bavaria before picking up another injury. However, he has now recovered and last month finished only six seconds behind winner Merga in an IAAF cross country race in Spain.
However at Greenmount, Korir will need to be wary of fellow Kenyan Emmanuel Bett who was second in Spain. Bett has also serious road racing credentials as shown by his victory two months ago in the Portsmouth 10k in a PB time of 48mins 3secs.
Also racing will be the 2013 Greenmount defending champion Thomas Ayeko of Uganda. Twelve months ago, Thomas won by a convincing 37 seconds ahead of third place finisher Andy Vernon, who is also racing on Saturday. Ayeko was third in the Portsmouth race and also a finalist in the 10,000 metres at last summer's Moscow World Championships.
The elite Men's line-up will also include Morrocan 5,000 metres champion Aziz Lahbabi, who is a former Junior bronze medallist. Also competing is Titus Mbishei of Kenya, who won silver over 10,000 metres in the 2008 World Junior Championships. Titus finished fourth over the distance in the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games.