22nd January 2022
ZAKARIYA MAHAMED AMONG THE WINNERS AT THE NORTHERN IRELAND INTERNATIONAL CROSS COUNTRY
The Northern Ireland International cross-country meeting saw several significant performances on display at the event which also incorporated the fourth leg of the British Athletics Cross Challenge series at the Billy Neill Centre of Excellence Dundonald.
The event was also part of a World Athletics Silver Cross Country Tour and incorporated the Celtic Games and Home Countries International.
Kenya’s multiple global medallist Hellen Obiri dominated the senior women’s international race as she led from the gun, with a domestic athlete tussle behind seeing Hannah Irwin (James Thie, Cambridge and Coleridge) outlasting Mhairi MacLennan (Ross Cairns, Preston) to take the podium spots on the day.
Obiri was a comfortable winner, but the real drama was taking place behind her as Northern Ireland’s Irwin moved away from the Scottish athlete on the final home straight to take the full complement of Cross Challenge points. The pair moved away from a large bunch of athletes before entering the final lap and held their lead over the rest to take second and third respectively.
England’s Eleanor Bolton (Ribble Valley) came through the field strongly for fourth on the day – third in the Cross Challenge race. She finished just ahead of European cross U20 champion Megan Keith (Ross Cairns, Inverness) who was close behind for Scotland.
After a cagey start to the senior men’s international race, Zakariya Mahamed (Idris Hamud, Southampton), Stuart McCallum (Bud Baldaro, Winchester) and Italy’s IIlliass Ouani broke away from the pack to head the field for middle section of the race. As McCallum dropped back slightly on the penultimate lap, Mahamed and Ouani opened up a marginal gap to make it a straight shoot out on the final lap. Ultimately, Mahamed came away victorious after a blistering final lap.
The Italian athlete, Ouani was second with McCallum holding on for third ahead of England’s Hugo Milner (Derby).
Scotland’s Hannah Ryding (Giffnock North) sealed the win in the women’s U20 race, producing a commanding performance to finish ahead of compatriot Louisa Brown (Garscube) by a 15 second margin. Ireland’s Emma McEvoy was third overall with Northern Ireland and Ulster’s Rebecca Rossiter (Andrew Han, Loughview) and England’s Ellen Weir (Anne Hegvold, Hercules Wimbledon) fourth and fifth respectively.
In the U17 field – the race was combined with the U20 women – NI & Ulster’s Lucy Foster (Willowfield) ran out the winner ahead of Beca Brown who was competing for Wales, and Scotland’s Freya Campbell (Duncan Robertson, Giffnock North).
After a race long battle, Sam Mills (Exeter) outsprinted his Irish competitors in the final few metres to win the U20 men’s race for England. Ireland’s Dean Casey and Scott Fagan rounded out the podium, while Rowan Miell-Ingram (Michael Cottam, Radley) was next back in fourth.
Jacob Deacon (Katie Hewison, Chorley) won the U17 men’s race – incorporated into the U20 race – with Connor Bell (Central) second ahead of Seamus Robinson (Westbury) and Corey Campbell (Alister Russell, Team East Lothian). Just four second separated second to fourth place.
The U15 girls’ race was dominated by Freya Woodhead (Bideford) who led from the early stages and powered to victory in Northern Ireland. She finished 26 seconds ahead of her nearest rival to take her first victory in the Cross Challenge, following a second place in Cardiff and third place in Liverpool so far during this series. Lagan Valley’s Isa McCarron was second while Dearbla Allen (St Peters) stormed through in the closing stages to take third.
Jamie Wallace (Mullingar Harriers) moved away from Zachary Dunne (David Pring, City of Norwich) in the final stretch of the U15 boys race to win but had to work hard as the duo battled it out over the 3000m race. Close behind, Sean Corry (St Michael’s Enniskillen) won the sprint ahead of Seamus O’Donoghue (Kenmare) for third spot.
Emer McKee (Willowfield) took the plaudits in the U13 girls’ race as she held off Freya Renton (Westport AC) by six seconds to win on home soil. Holly Renton (Westport AC) was third in a time of 7:39.
In the U13 boys race Callum Dick (Giffnock North) showed grit and determination to win ahead of Willowfield’s Noah Watt by seven seconds in a time of 6:53. A bit further back was Odhran Rodgers (Rosses) who crossed the line in third place in a time of 7:29.