OFlaherty to Represent Northern Ireland at Antrim International XC

12 January 2016

Newcastle's Kerry O'Flaherty will be taking to the start line this Saturday at Greenmount, Antrim and is ready for a strong race. Kerry will be representing Northern Ireland, alongside fellow team mates Banbridge’s Emma Mitchell and Catherine Whoriskey of City of Derry. Four times winner of the Seeley Cup 10K, and 2015 2nd place winner, Kerry has shown fine form of late setting a PB time of 9:42:51 in the 3000m Steeplechase event set at the Letterkenny International Track & Field Meet in July.

The 2016 RIO Olympic qualifying athlete is excited about this year’s race in Antrim, with European Irish team mate Fionnuala McCormack racing alongside. Kerry will face formidable opposition from previous IAAF Antrim International victors and 2015 European Cross Country Champs, Mimi Belete, Kate Avery, Louise Carton and of course as previously stated Fionnuala McCormack.

34 year old Kerry had one of her best races ever in the European Trials when she finished 4th behind clear winner Fionnuala. Kerry who is already qualified for Rio in the steeplechase knows that she will have to repeat that form to make the scoring for the Northern Irish team. Kerry is however confident and feels that the team has the potential to do well on Saturday. 

GB's top cross country runner Kate Avery has been added to the list of star competitors for this weekend's Antrim International Cross Country International which is one of a World Series and supported by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.

Athletics NI officials were in celebratory mood yesterday following the news that they had secured the services of the weekend's winner of the Great Edinburgh 6k Cross Country. This success adds to Kate's individual silver medal from last month's European Cross Country Champs in France. The 24 year old who is a former US Collegiate champion is clearly in the form of her life and will fancy her chances at Antrim where she will face probably the highest quality field in the 39 year history of this International.  

Last Saturday in Edinburgh Avery made light of the difficult conditions and took a clear lead after half way from Ireland's Fionnuala McCormack who is also racing at Greenmount.  Kate went on to secure a comfortable victory and commented;

"I found the course difficult as I prefer firmer conditions. I'm over the moon with what is really my first big win".

Avery who previously finished 8th at Greenmount behind winner Mary Cullen back  in 2010 has been a transformed athlete in the past 18 months following her  training  schedules in the US.. The Glasgow Commonwealth Games 4th place over 10,000 metres just lost the European Cross Country title in Bulgaria 13 months ago by the proverbial hair's breadth from team mate Gemma Steel. Kate again secured silver in France last month behind Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands.

Her performance in France was remarkable given that her Father who was her biggest supporter had just passed away.   The Sheldon AC woman   said that she was thrilled with her second silver as she had not expected to be competing at all because of her family circumstances. 

Kate will however need to be at the top of her game at Antrim this week to ensure victory. In addition to McCormack she faces the winners from the past two years. Birtukan Fente Alemu of Ethiopia was the clear winner last year while Mimi Bahrain narrowly won in 2014. The field will also include recently crowned European U23 champion Louise Carton of Belgium. 

Everything could depend on what athlete copes best with the inevitable heavy conditions.