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Antrim Cross Country: Olympic champion Kipruto and Kipkirui take victories

Olympic steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto follows Abraham Cheroben during the men's race in Antrim

Kenya’s Olympic steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto took the men’s win at the Antrim International Cross Country event as Ireland’s Fionnuala McCormack was fourth in the women’s event.

Kipruto finished a second ahead of another Kenyan-born athlete Abraham Cheroben, who now represents Bahrain.

England’s Andy Vernon completed the podium spots a further 19 seconds back.

Another Kenyan Caroline Kipkirui won the women’s race as she was 38 seconds clear of Ethiopian Gotytom Gebreslase.

With Kipkirui, 22, winning the 5.6km race in 18 minutes and 53 seconds, McCormack’s hopes of achieving a podium finish were not helped by losing a shoe early on the final lap.

McCormack continued to battle bravely but gradually lost ground in the closing stages to Ethiopian pair Gebreslase and Birtukan Adamu.

Gebreslase clocked 19 minutes and 35 seconds to come in three seconds ahead of Adamu with McCormack, a further one second back, as she repeated her fourth place finish at last month’s European Championships in Sardinia.

Fionnuala McCormack (right) was fourth in a race won by Kenya's Caroline Kipkirui (second from right)

English pair Pippa Woolven and Claire Duck completed the top six with veteran Maria McCambridge and Shona Heaslip the next best of the Irish in 11th and 12th spots and Armagh AC’s Fionnuala Ross the leading Northern Ireland finisher in 16th.

After setting a new Olympic record of 8:03.28 when winning the steeplechase in Rio, Kipruto was clearly the class athlete on show at Antrim but there were question marks about how he would perform in the mud of Greenmount in the 40th anniversary of the Northern Ireland cross country meeting.

However, the 22-year-old’s class proved enough to take the victory in a men’s field which didn’t have the strength of previous years at a meeting which has attracted the likes of Steve Ovett, John Ngugi, Paul Tergat, Ismael Kirui and Eamonn Coghlan.

Kipruto did have to battle with another Kenyan native Cheroben over the 9km but his time of 24:36 left him one second clear, with Aldershot runner Vernon completing the podium positions.

France’s Hassan Chahdi was 24 seconds behind Vernon in fourth spot with England’s Jonathan Taylor and Scotland’s Lachlan Oates competing the top six.

Liam Brady was the top Irishman in 11th spot, a minute and 54 seconds off the pace with Seamus Lynch and Conan McCaughey the leading Northern Ireland finishers in 13th and 14th spot.

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BBC Sport – Athletics

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