Athletics: Kenyans Sweep Up the Field at Stormont
Byline: DAVE McKIBBEN
KENYAN athletes produced a clean sweep in the Belfast International cross-country by taking the first three places in the men's event for the second year in succession and for good measure they also added the ladies title.
Conditions were surprisingly perfect for the spectacular which was sponsored by the Northern Ireland Events Company and SCNI with the seven races being watched by a large appreciative crowd.
Irish champion Seamus Power, fourth last year was quick to show and was sharing the front position with Welsh Olympian Christian Stephenson at the end of the first lap with the fancied Khalid Skah and all three Kenyans in the leading group.
Skah from Morocco, the Olympic 10,000 metres champion in 1992, was forced to drop out on the second lap suffering from acute bronchitis as Power still forced the pace.
After three circuits it was Power, holder Daniel Gachara followed by Julius Kibet and Joel Sattaitti all from Kenya, Marco Mazzo from Italy, Ben Noad of England and Polish marathon champion Michael Bartoszak.
It was still Power at the bell but the Kenyans then moved past with Gacharara and Kibet fighting it out before 20 year old Kibet, better known for road running, blasted past to win by two seconds.
Sattaitti completed the clean sweep with Power coming fourth again. Stephen Cairns in 15th was top local finisher and was followed by Gary McLernon 18th, Alan McCullough 21st, Brian Connolly 22nd and Brian Campbell 23rd.
The ladies race was good. Dunleer winner Anne Keenan-Buckley and Irish champion Rosie Ryan took off quickly and were in front of Kenyan Kiplagat and USA No 1 Colleen de Reuck after the first lap.
Next time Keenan-Buckley, De Reuck and Kiplagat were together before the Kenyan and USA winners opened a gap with Kiplagat powering to a nine second win.
Forty year old Keenan-Buckley held third ahead of Ryan, French athlete Fatima Ybelian and England's Lucy Wright. Ireland won the team prize comfortably from England with Sharon Hatch and Karen Marshall leading the home team 24th and 25th.
The vetersans race was an exact repeat of last year with Armagh's Dermot Kerr leading home Finn Valley athletes Dominic Bonner and Pat Hegarty.
Kevin Seaward had a great run to take the U-20 title ahead of Scotland's Christopher and Derek Watson with holder Diarmuid Grant in fourth. Michael Fox ran very well to take the U-15s from Charley Reilly and Joseph Caffrey.
AAA's junior track champion Elizabeth McWilliams came out on top of a four girl battle to win the U-17s from Laura Biggerstaff, Cheryl Guiney and Christine Hooke. The U-14 race went to Scottish visitor Lynsey Sharpe.
It was a good day for the Lagan Valley club. In addition to the individual win by Michael Fox they took the U-14 and U17 team prizes and were also third at U-15.
Mens International: 1. J Kibet (Kenya) 25.06, 2. D Gachara (Kenya) 25.08, 3. J Sataiti (Kenya) 25.14, 4. S Power (Ireland) 25.23, 5. M Mazzo (Italy) 25.31, 6. M Bartoszak (Poland) 25.37, 7. B Noad (England) 25.46, 8. C Stephenson (Wales) 25.48, 9. R Quinn (Scotland) 25.53, 10. M Vaux-Harvey (England) 26.01, 11. J Cabellero (Spain) 26.07, 12. E de Jonge (South Africa) 26.10.
Internation team winners: Kenya. Club team winners: Willowfield.
Ladies International - 1. E Kiplagat (Kenya) 17.16, 2. C de Rueck (USA) 17. …