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Africa dominates Atrim

mimi belete

mimi belete at world cross

Ethiopian-born athlete, Mimi Belete, takes the women’s event at the Antrim International Cross Country in Northern Ireland

Mimi Belete, who runs for Bahrain, was a second ahead of Maryam Jamal who also represents the Middle Eastern country.

Belete’s sister Almensh, who represents Belgium, took third place as she came in one second ahead of Ireland’s Fionnuala Britton, who had to settle for fourth place.

World Cross Country champion Japhet Korir won the men’s event.

Kenyan Korir, who became the youngster winner of the World title when he took victory in Poland last March aged just 19, finished two seconds ahead of last year’s Greenmount winner Thomas Ayeko of Uganda with another Kenyan Emmanuel Bett a further second back in third.

Korir took victory in 28 minutes and 40 seconds as the leading trio broke clear of the pack before halfway with Britain’s Andy Vernon (29.34) the leading non-African in sixth

Michael Mulhare was top Irishman, 13 seconds behind Vernon, with Paul Pollock (30.08) the leading Northern Ireland finisher in ninth and Stephen Scullion (30.54) 14th.

Saturday’s race was the first time a current world cross country title holder has run in the 36-year history of the Northern Ireland race.

In the women’s race, Britton did manage to finish ahead of Britain’s Gemma Steel, who had taken European silver last month in Belgrade when the Irish woman had to settle for fourth.

Steel was not even the top British finisher in Saturday’s race as 2011 Antrim winner Charlotte Purdue took fifth five seconds behind Britton with the European silver medallist a further 14 seconds back in sixth.

Britton, the winner of the Antrim event over the last two years, led during the first lap but was unable to keep pace with the leading duo over the closing stages of the 5.6 kilometre race.

Belete crossed the line in 18 minutes and seven seconds – one second ahead of Jamal – with the winner’s third-placed sister 14 seconds off the pace and Britton a further second back.

Winner Belete, 25, moved to Belgium with her sister as a political refuge before opting to transfer allegiance to Bahrain in 2009.

Belete took gold in the 5000m at the Asian Games in 2010 and also was seventh in the 1500m at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu.

Eimear Mullan took the concurrently-run Northern Ireland title as she finished 14th overall a minute and 35 seconds behind winner Belete.

Vernon and Purdue excel in Antrim

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