OLYMPIC and World champion Vivian Cheruiyot will return to Tyneside to defend her Simplyhealth Great North Run title next month, it has been announced.

The four-time Olympic and five-time World Championship medallist won the world’s biggest half marathon on her debut over the distance a year ago, but will once again face stiff opposition on 10 September with marathon world record holder Mary Keitany and Great Britain’s Jo Pavey already announced in the women’s field.

Cheruiyot took victory ahead of fellow Kenyan Priscah Jeptoo in a thrilling finale on the South Shields coast a year ago, with four-time Olympic gold medallist Tirunesh Dibaba third.

33-year-old Cheruiyot, who turns 34 the day after the Simplyhealth Great North Run, said of her challenge: “I’m looking forward to returning to England for this race. It was perfect to win there last year, and even better if I can win two in a row. There will be some tough competition on the day.”

As well as Pavey and Keitany, Cheruiyot will be up against Betsy Saina. The Kenyan 29-year-old tasted victory on British soil when she won last October’s Bank of Scotland Great Scottish Run half marathon, and the distance runner, who placed fifth in the 10,000m final of last year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, is looking forward to her return.

She said: “I love competing in the UK and I’m really excited to be coming back to take on the Great North Run. Some of the world’s best runners are going to be racing here and I hope to be among them.

“I have heard great things about this event so it is something to look forward to.”

The Simplyhealth Great North Run takes place on Sunday, 10 September, and is broadcast live on BBC One HD from 9.30am until 1.30pm.

For more information, visit greatrun.org/north