World champion Hellen Obiri leads the entries for a World Athletics Cross Country Tour event on Saturday that incorporates the Celtic Games, Home Countries International and British Athletics Cross Challenge

The Northern Ireland International Cross Country in Belfast on Saturday (Jan 22) has attracted the interest of reigning world cross-country champion Hellen Obiri.

The event, which takes place at the Billy Neill Country Park, is part of the World Athletics Silver Cross Country Tour and incorporates the Celtic Games, Home Countries International and British Athletics Cross Challenge.

Obiri, 32, won the world title in Aarhus in 2019 and the Kenyan is also the reigning world and Commonwealth 5000m champion, which makes it quite a coup for the organisers.

“While the International Cross Country here has always attracted classy athletes from abroad it is particularly gratifying that we have got the services of such a star athlete as Hellen Obiri especially given the ongoing difficulties created by covid concerning international travel,” said meeting organiser John Allen.

“With her win in the last World Cross, Hellen has shown that she has the versatility to beat the best in the world over either track or cross country.”

In the men’s race the leading contenders are Vincent Keter and Kamar Etiang of Kenya – the latter being the world junior 1500m champion.

Around 600 athletes in total are due to compete and the first race is the under-13 girls event at 10.55am with the international women’s race at 2.15pm and international men’s at 2.50pm.

The international athletes aside, the event is the fourth meeting in the British Athletics Cross Challenge series for this winter.

To see the leading athletes in each category and what happened at the earlier races last year, CLICK HERE

The annual Home Countries International is also incorporated into the meeting and the England team includes: Women – Kate Avery, Eleanor Bolton, Abbie Donnelly, Jess Gibbon; Men – Matt Stonier, Zak Mahamed, Hugo Milner, Calum Johnson; U20 women – Ellen Weir, Ella Greenway, Kiya Dee, Louise Hackett; U20 men – Finley Proffitt, Sam Mills, Louis Small, Alexander Melloy.

The local challengers are likely to include Fionnuala Ross and Nikita Burke in the women’s race, plus Stephen Scullion in the men’s race.

Saturday’s event will be streamed this weekend here…

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