18 July 2017

Decorated Paralympic athletes Jason Smyth (Derry Track Club) and Michael McKillop (North Belfast Harriers / Paddy McKillop) added Para Athletics World Championship 2017 medals to their already bulging trophy cabinets on a busy and hugely successful weekend for local athletes. 

Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC / Richard Rodgers) also hit the 3,000m Steeplechase Commonwealth Games standard in Belgium, while Kate O’Connor (St Vincent’s AC / Laura Kerr - throws) set a new Irish Youth Javelin record and a new NI Under 18 Sot Putt record in Dublin.

In London, at the Para Athletics World Championships friends and Paralympic superstars Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop secured gold within ten minutes of each other on an excellent night for local athletics (Sunday 16th July 2017).

Following on from his 10.73 (+0.2) cruise control victory in the T13 100m semi-final, Jason went on to pick up gold with a 10.63 (-0.4) clocking for 1st place in the final.  Then, less than ten minutes later, fellow Northern Ireland man Michael McKillop took to the start line in the T38 800m final – like Jason, Michael had won his semi-final relatively comfortably, and in the final, he showed his class with 2:00.93 for 1st place.

Both men will now look forward to other events at the prestigious Para Athletics World Championships.  Jason will line up in the T13 200m heats later today (Monday 17th July 2017), while Michael will be gearing up for the 1500m, which starts on Saturday 22nd July 2017. 

Another Northern Ireland man, James Hamilton (Ballymena Runners / Mark Kirk) will commence his Championships today when he aims for gold in the T20 1500m final.

Kerry O’Flaherty hits Commonwealth Games consideration standard in Belgium

Newcastle AC’s Kerry O’Flaherty celebrated her birthday by achieving a Commonwealth Games 2018 consideration standard whilst competing at the Memorial Rasschaert Meeting in Belgium (Saturday 15th July 2017).

The 36 year old Olympian narrowly missed the 3,000m Steeplechase standard of 9:54.00 when running 9:54.40 in Sweden earlier this week, but went over three seconds inside it when crossing the line in 9:50.75 tonight – this was enough to secure 3rd place in a high quality race won by Rima Chanah (Algeria) in 9:44.42 (1st place).

Kerry, who is coached by Richard Rodgers, is now the thirteenth local athlete to achieve a Gold Coast consideration standard.  The following athletes have all reached the standard:  Leon Reid (Birchfield Harriers / James Hillier), Kate O’Connor (St Gerard’s / Michael O’Connor), Mollie Courtney (Cheltenham AC / David Warner), Ben Reynolds (North Down AC / Tom Reynolds), Ciara Mageean (UCD AC / Jerry Kiernan), Adam Kirk-Smith (Woodford Green Essex / Tomaz Plibersek), Sommer Lecky (Finn Valley AC / Niall Wilkinson), Dempsey McGuigan (Finn Valley AC / John Smith), Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders / Andrew Hobdell), Emma Mitchell (QUB AC / Eamonn Christie), Adam McMullen (Crusaders AC / Alan Kennedy) and Amy Foster (City of Lisburn AC / David Reid).

Kate O’Connor claims the headlines at SIAB Schools International

Rising star Kate O’Connor (Michael O’Connor & Laura Kerr-throws coach) continued her exceptional recent form as she collected a gold medal in the Javelin after throwing 49.26m, a new Irish Youth record, at the SIAB International Track & Field Championships in Santry, Dublin (Saturday 15th July 2017).  Kate also bettered the NI Under 18 Shot Putt record with a 14.63m effort (4th place)

City of Lisburn AC’s Lauren Roy (Slemish College) was part of the Ireland 4x100m team who secured gold in 45.63 (1st place).  Lauren, Kate and a number of other familiar faces from NI helped Ireland the 2nd place in the overall team competition – England took 1st place. 

NI men part of Ireland’s impressive 4x400m Relay team

In Poland (Sunday 16th July 2017), at the European Under 23 Athletics Track & Field Championships, local men Andrew Mellon (Crusaders AC / Brendan McConville) and Craig Newell (Ballymena & Antrim AC / Ian Neely) were part of the Ireland 4 x 400m team, alongside team mates Harry Purcell and Karl Griffin, who qualified for the final. 

The speedy quartet recorded 3:07.63 in the heats, before going on to secure a very credible 7th place in the final, crossing the line in 3:08.64.