Belfast International Event Preview Mary Sets The Targets
04 May 2022
Hannah Tapley (Cardiff AC) just one of a strong field of eight women high jumpers who will be hoping to better Mary Peters performance of 1.82 metres set in the Olympic Final in 1972. And it s not only the Munich High Jump performance which will prove challenging...
50 Years ago this year Mary Peters travelled to Munich to represent Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the Olympic Games. A couple of weeks later she returned to Belfast and was paraded down Royal Avenue on top of a lorry surrounded by thousands of spectators anxious to get a glimpse of her Gold Medal. Mary had beaten the home favourite Heide Rosendahl by just 10 points and had broken the World Record into the bargain.
Over the next half century, unlike many Olympic Champions, Mary did not drift into obscurity but dedicated herself into putting something back into the sport she loved. And so on May 28th, at the track which bears her name, the now Lady Mary Peters, LG, CH, DBE, DStj, will host a 50th Anniversary Celebration of her achievement. With over 300 athletes ranging from Primary School Students, Special Olympic hopefuls, top local athletes and International stars, the meeting will be the biggest Track and Field event seen at the Mary Peters Track for many years.
For the female athletes hoping to emulate Mary’s 1972 performances the bar will be raised very high. Over the two days in Munich Mary rain 100 metres Hurdles in 13.29 seconds, putt the Shot 16.20 metres, High Jumped 1.82 metres, Long Jumped 5.98 metres and finished with a 200 metres in 24.08. Currently three of those performances would rank in the top six in the UK. So is anyone likely to break those marks at the ned of the month?
The two performances most under threat are the 100 metres hurdles and the High Jump. The former stood as the Northern Ireland Record for 44 years and the meeting organisers are offering a bonus of £100, on top of the prize money, to the winner if she breaks 13.29. With three of the fastest six ever Irish women already entered, including the reigning UK indoor Champion Mega Marrs, the chances are hopeful.
The High Jump is also an event which has the prospect of keeping the attention firmly focused on the area closest to the river. With over a week to go before entries close, eight women have already entered led by the World Junior Silver medalist and Commonwealth Youth Games Champion, Sommer Lecky who enters the competition with a lifetime best of 1.90 metres. She will face strong opposition, not only from locals and Irish athletes but from a trio of visitors with outstanding credentials. Kate Anson (Liverpool Harriers) recently set a lifetime best of 1.82 metres equally Mary’s Munich performance. The former English School’s Champion has twice topped the UK ranks and is the Welsh indoor Champion. Fellow Welsh woman, Hannah Tapley (Cardiff AC) is also in the best shape of her life winning the British Universities title last weekend in 1.78 metres. Bernice Coulson (Birchfield Harriers) returns to the venue of her best ever jump, when she won the Belfast International last year. Her most recent performance was a Bronze medal in the World Athletics indoor Tour in the Czech Republic.
With Mary making a ceremonial arrival at 11.15 and events getting underway at noon it is clearly an occasion not to be missed.