Three Major Championships Gold Medals for NI & Ulster Athletes
The performances of local athletes created a weekend of athletics to remember, with medals at the Para Athletics World Championships, the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas and a new Northern Ireland record at the European Athletics Under 20 Championships in Italy.
Super Sunday as NI athletes secure two golds at Commonwealth Youth Games
The outstanding performances of Aaron Sexton (North Down AC / Roger Sexton) and Sommer Lecky (Finn Valley AC / Niall Wilkinson) at the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas crowned off an epic weekend.
The talented duo both claimed gold on what was a ‘Super Sunday’ for Northern Ireland athletes. NI & Ulster Senior Champion Sommer again bettered the Commonwealth Games standard of 1.82m when she jumped to 1.83m to seal 1st place in the High Jump.
The always impressive Aaron excelled in the 200m, recording 21.93 in qualifying and 21.83 in the semi-final, before emerging as champion with a 21.57 (-1.5) for 1st place in the final.
Anna McCauley (City of Lisburn AC / Maureen McCauley & Tom Reynolds) also performed well in her first major international competition, missing a spot in the 100m hurdles final by just one place when recording her third fastest time ever, 14.26. Beechmount Harriers’ Davicia Patterson (Paul Magee) reached the 400m final with a 55.54 finish in the heats – the NI & Ulster Senior 400m medallist then ran 55.86 for 8th place in the final.
Michael McKillop secures second Para Athletics World Championships Gold
Michael McKillop (North Belfast Harriers / Paddy McKillop) collected his second gold at this year’s Para Athletics World Championships in London, winning the T37 1500m in 4:36.38; this added to his T38 800m gold.
It proved to be a successful Championships for local athletes, with Jason Smyth (Derry Track Club) picking up gold medals in the T13 100m and 200m events and James Hamilton (Ballymena Runners / Mark Kirk) also impressing in the T20 800m and 1500m, where he finished sixth in both events – this included a 1:59.40 personal best over 800m.
Kate O’Connor breaks NI Senior Heptathlon record and achieves second CWG consideration standard
16-year-old Kate O’Connor (St Gerard’s AC) once again showed her potential with a top ten finish, a second Commonwealth Games consideration standard and new Northern Ireland Senior Heptathlon record at the European Athletics Under 20 Track & Field Championships.
Kate’s hard work in training alongside her dad and coach Michael O’Connor, and coaching team of Tom Reynolds, Laura Kerr, Adam McMullen and Dessie Gough was rewarded when after two days of competition, which included personal bests in the 800m (2:15.87), Shot Putt (12.90m) and High Jump (1.78m), Kate finished on 5,759 points, a new personal best; this saw the St Gerard’s AC athlete finish in 8th place overall.
During an interview with Athletics Ireland, Kate explained, “I'm delighted with how everything went. Day one was better than I wanted it to be, it was great, and today I had steady performances all day. To finish with 5,700 is just unbelievable. I just want to thank everyone for their support and everything at home.”
City of Lisburn AC’s James Edgar (Heather Ardis) was in action over 5,000m, where he narrowly missed a top ten placing when clocking 15:39.22 for 11th place.
Amy Foster surpasses CWG standard as local athletes claim impressive medal haul at AAI National Senior Track & Field Championships
Closer to home, City of Lisburn AC’s Amy Foster (David Reid) claimed her sixth National title and hit the Commonwealth Games consideration standard for the third time as local athletes collected an impressive medal haul at the Irish Life AAI National Senior Track & Field Championships in Santry, Dublin.
Amy clocked 11.43 (+1.7), just 0.03 outside her Irish (and Northern Ireland) record, when securing 1st place in the 100m final. NI 5,000m and 10,000m record holder Emma Mitchell (QUB AC / Eamonn Christie) was also in fine form over the two days of competition – World University Games bound Emma won the 5,000m in 16:27.08 (1st place) before going on to pick up 1500m gold in 4:31.55 (1st place).
Long Jump specialist Adam McMullen (Crusaders AC / Alan Kennedy) produced a strong series of jumps to seal top honours. Adam jumped 7.55m, then 7.70m, before going on to win with an excellent 7.74m (1.5).
Ciara Mageean (UCD AC / Jerry Kiernan) prepared for the upcoming IAAF World Championships with a victory in the 800m. Despite admittedly tiring in the final 200m, the gutsy multiple record holder held on to win in 2:04.16 (1st place).
There were two Northern Ireland winners in the 3,000m Steeplechase - Newcastle AC’s Kerry O’Flaherty (Richard Rodgers) continued her recent good form, winning the ladies title in 10:01.40 (1st place), while in the men’s equivalent, Adam Kirk-Smith (Woodford Green Essex / Tomaz Plibersek) secured 1st place in 8:55.72.
John Kelly (Finn Valley AC / John Kelly Snr) claimed top honours in the Shot Putt (7.26kg) competition. John landed a 16.46m throw for 1st place.
Other impressive performances included a 400m hurdles seasons best of 51.19 for Jason Harvey (Crusaders AC / Nick Dakin), and an NI silver and bronze for Crusaders AC duo Andrew Mellon (Brendan McConville) and Ben Maze (Paul McKee) over 400m, with Andrew running 47.44 (2nd place) and Ben 47.64 (3rd place). City of Lisburn AC’s Christian Robinson (Annie Rose) sprinted to a new 100m personal best of 10.64 (+1.7) for 3rd place.
In the associated Junior 3,000m event, North Down AC’s Craig McMeechan (Francis Marsh) won in 9:00.61 (1st place).
Gladys Ganiel O’Neill leads the way at Fingal 10k
Also in Dublin, North Belfast Harriers athlete Gladys Ganiel O’Neill secured the ladies title as more than 3,000 athletes took on the Fingal 10k road race. Gladys recorded 35:33 for 1st place.
Fellow North Belfast Harriers athlete Lindsay Gordon claimed an impressive 6th place in the men’s race, running 32:03. The race was won by John Coughlan (MSB AC) in 30:38 (1st place).