Team Ireland Bound for Belgrade

ByEmma Porter |

Eight Irish athletes will represent Ireland at this weekend’s World Cross Country Championships which are taking place in Belgrade on Saturday March 30th. All the action will be broadcast live on Virgin Media 2 from 9.50am.

432 athletes from 51 teams will descend upon Friendship Park in the Serbian capital as they battle out for global cross country honours. A total of 245 athletes (138 men, 107 women) are entered for the individual senior races, while 187 athletes (95 men, 92 women) will be in action in the U20 races.

Fiona Everard (Bandon AC) and Danielle Donegan (Tullamore Harriers AC) will once again don the green singlet for Ireland in the Senior Women’s 10,000m race.

Everard ran the race of her life when she became national senior cross country champion in Gowran last November before going on to finish 34th at the European Cross Country Championships in Brussels. The Galway based athlete will be looking to produce another strong performance in the Serbian capital.

Donegan, who is the reigning U23 national cross country champion, finished 8th in her age category at those European Championships in Belgium and will be hoping for a positive start to her time in the senior athletics ranks.

Away from the Irish involvement in the senior women’s race, all eyes will be on Beatrice Chebet, who went on to win world 5000m bronze on the track and the inaugural world 5km road race title later in the year. Chebet was among Kenya’s champions in Bathurst last year and will look to defend her title on Saturday. Her compatriots Agnes Ngetich, the bronze medallist in Bathurst, and Emmaculate Anyango are expected to provide tough opposition.

Keelan Kilrehill (Moy Valley AC) and Hugh Armstrong (Ballina AC) came close to making the podium as part of the Senior Men’s team who finished fourth at the European Cross Country Championships last year. Both athletes placed inside the top twenty in gruelling conditions  on that occasion and they will once again be aiming for good results on a firmer surface as they take to action in the Senior Men’s 10,000m.

The race is stacked with world class quality throughout, including the full podium from last year’s World Cross Country in Bathurst. Champion Jacob Kiplimo and bronze medallist Joshua Cheptegei are set to take their places along with Ethiopia’s silver medallist Berihu Aregawi.

Two of the gold-medal-winning Irish U20 team from last year’s European Cross Country Championships in Belgium will also make the journey to Belgrade. Seamus Robinson (City of Derry Spartans AC) and Harry Colbert (Waterford AC) will be aiming to channel some of their heroics from that memorable day in December as they race over the 8,000m distance in the U20 race where they’ll be looking to gain more major championship experience.

Anna Gardiner (East Down AC) and Kirsty Maher (Moy Valley AC) will lead out the Irish in Belgrade in the U20 Women’s 6,000m race. Gardiner looked seriously impressive when claiming the senior girls title at the All-Ireland Schools Cross Country Championships earlier this month and will look to build on that performance and her top ten finish at the European Cross Country Championships last year.

Maher represented Ireland at the Celtic International Cross Country in Scotland back in January where she won bronze and will no doubt be relishing the opportunity to be back in green again following her top fifteen finish in Brussels last December.

Irish team travels as selected:

Event Athlete Club Coach
U20 Women Anna Gardiner East Down AC Peter Morgan
U20 Women Kirsty Maher Moy Valley Andy Bibby & Phillip Finnerty
U20 Men Harry Colbert Waterford AC Des Colbert
U20 Men Seamus Robinson City of Derry Spartans AC Martin Robinson
Senior Women Danielle Donegan Tullamore Harriers Emmett Dunleavy
Senior Women Fiona Everard Bandon AC Matt Lockett
Senior Men Hugh Armstrong Ballina AC Feidhlim Kelly
Senior Men Keelan Kilrehill Mov Valley AC Emmett Dunleavy


World Cross Country Championships Course Map and Key Information can be found HERE.

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