Ulster Athletes impress in Bedford

29 August 2016

Fourteen Ulster Athletes travelled to the England Athletics U15 & U17 Championships in Bedford this weekend. Day 1 of the championships saw a PB from Namphon Steele (Lagan Valley/Roger Sexton & John Glover) in the ambulant 200m, 29.46. Also on day 1 all three Ulster female sprinters successfully progressed through heats and semis and into the U17 100m final. With a personal best of 12.05 (-0.2) Lauren Roy (Ballymena & Antrim/John McAdorey) took the bronze medal. Anna McAuley (City of Lisburn AC/Jo Savage) and Janine Boyle (Finn Valley AC/ Shauna Carlin) were 6th (12.36) and 7th (12.42) respectively.

In the men's U17 100m Aaron Sexton (North Down AC/Roger Sexton) proceeded through heats and semis in a similar fashion eventually finishing 5th in 10.98 (1.1m/s) in the final.

The standout performances of day 1 came from Finn Valley AC athletes Sommer Lecky (Niall Wilkinson) and James Kelly (John Kelly Snr.) Sommer produced a high jump of 1.79m to claim the gold medal before narrowly missing 1.82m. James Kelly took victory with a throw of 16.64m in the fourth round of the U17 shot competition.

Also in the field heptathlete Kate O'Connor (St Gerard's AC/Michael O'Connor) produced her 2nd best throw of the year with 12.06m in the U17 shot competition.

The final performances of day 1 came from Davicia Patterson (Beechmount Harriers/Paul Magee) in the 300m and Fon Steel in the Ambulant 100m. In her 300m debut Davicia safely qualified winning her semi and took an excellent silver medal in the final with a time of 39.46. Fon Steel just missed her PB in the Ambulant 100m taking the bronze medal in a time of 13.90.

U17 Hammer thrower Jade William (Wrexham AC/Neil Williams) was first to compete on day 2 and continued Ulster's medal winning streak. Jade's best of 56.50m secured her the silver medal. Also in the field pole vaulter Shane Martin (Ballymena & Antrim AC/Jim Alexander) faced challenging winds but with a best vault of 4.01m took the bronze medal. Shane's training partner Ellie McCartney (City of Lisburn AC / Jim Alexander) was close to her best with a vault of 3.51m securing 4th place in the women's U17 competition.

After a busy first day in the 100m Ulster's Lauren Roy, Anna McAuley and Aaron Sexton all returned in the 200m. Aaron looked extremely relaxed cruising to 21.99 (1.7m/s) to win his semi-final and later secured the bronze in a final won by the European Youth Champion. Busiest of all the sprinters U17 Lauren Roy progressed safely through her heat and semi-final eventually taking 4th place in the final in a time of 25.38. Ulster and Irish Schools Champion U15 Holly Mulholland (City of Lisburn/Jo Savage) held her nerve against strong competition for 3rd place in her heat (11.74) and later backed this up with 11.71 in the semi-final.

Heptathlete Kate O'Connor was back in action in the U17 Javelin. Kate was close to her best when she improved by 3m in round 6 with a throw of 42.90m. Going into the final round it appeared a 42m+ throw would achieve AC medal but it was not to be when 2 others also improved with their final throw and Kate remained 4th.

In the U17's Boys wheelchair races T54 Jack Agnew (Torque Racing Club/Heather Ardis) contested the 100m, 200m, 400m and 1500m. Jack crossed the line first in the 10 in a PB of 15.71 and was latter awarded a silver medal after the Razza point system was applied. Jack suffered some misfortune with disqualifications in the 400m (lane infringement) and 1500m (contact with competitor) but ended his day in high spirits claiming the gold medal in the 200m (28.40.)

With 9 of Ulster's 14 athletes medalling and 3 more in the top 6, Team Manager Tom Reynolds commented, "this is likely the strongest Ulster performance at these championships in recent years."