Fionnuala among top line-up for IAAF cross-country event at Greenmount

Fionnuala McCormack is among the entrants for the Greenmount Cross Country International at Antrim.
Fionnuala McCormack is among the entrants for the Greenmount Cross Country International at Antrim.

Former double European Cross Country Champion Fionnuala McCormack is the latest big name to be announced for the Greenmount Cross Country International at Antrim later this month.

This meeting is one of 12 IAAF World Cross Country permits and is supported by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.

31 year old Fionnuala is second only to the great Sonia O’Sullivan in the list of top female Irish cross country runners.

She has consistently been the backbone of successful Irish teams as illustrated recently by their bronze medals for the second year running in the European Cross Country Championships in France.

In the race Fionnuala fought her way through to 4th position to lead the Irish team to a comfortable rostrum place behind the GB and French teams.

She commented afterwards that while she was delighted for the team she was getting a little tired of finishing 4th for the 3rd time.

Fionnuala is however her own harshest critic as she has two previous individual European titles to her name from 2011 and 2012.

The former Olympic steeplechaser has now moved to the marathon and her time of 2 hrs 33 mins 15 secs in October qualifies her for the Rio Olympics next summer.

Fionnuala has also experienced success at Greenmount with two past wins to her credit.

However in next month’s race she will be fully challenged by Birtukan Fente Alemu of Ethiopia who is the current Antrim title holder.

Last March the African enjoyed a comfortable victory by 16 secs over runner up Steph Twell who was the first female winner at Greenmount back in 2009.

Birtukan Fente Alemu is also a steeplechaser with a PB of 9.24.91 which ranks her 15th in the World Lists. The 29 year old was a finalist in the World Championships in 2011 and was unlucky to miss out on this year’s final in Beijing last August.

The race is shaping up as one the classics as newly crowned European U23 champion Louise Carton of Belgium will also be competing.

Louise was the surprise but clear winner at the weekend over the fast 6,000 metres Championship course in Hyeres, France.

The meeting will also include the current Men’s champion Thomas Ayeko of Uganda.

For further race entry information and online entry is available from www.athleticsni.org/Events