News

Local quartet represent Ireland and GB & NI at IAAF World Indoor Championships

05 March 2018

Local quartet represent Ireland and GB & NI at IAAF World Indoor Championships

Northern Ireland quartet Amy Foster (City of Lisburn AC / Ireland / David Reid), Megan Marrs (City of Lisburn AC / Great Britain & NI / Jerzy Maciukiewicz), Ciara Mageean (UCD AC / Ireland / Steve Vernon) and Ben Reynolds (North Down AC / Ireland / Tom Reynolds) were in action at IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham (England) this weekend (Thursday 1st – Sunday 4th March 2018)

Amy was the first of the familiar faces to take to the ArenaBirmingham track, with her 60m heats taking place during the Friday’s morning session.  The Irish record holder clocked 7.35 for 5th place.  Despite being just 0.08 away from her own Irish record, it unfortunately wasn’t enough to see Amy progress to the next round.

Speaking to Athletics NI after the race, the 29-year-old said, “My start was good but I didn’t run off it well,” she said. “It’s not a bad run but it’s not what I was looking for. It’s not easy to sprint at this level. I’ve had good races this year and this was probably the worst one but that’s just how it goes.”

Megan Marrs was the next local athlete in action, making her senior debut for Great Britain & Northern Ireland.  In her 60 hurdles heat, the fast improving Loughborough based competitor recorded 8.28 to take 6th place. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to see Megan progress to the next stage but takes nothing away from an excellent start to the year for recently crowned British Athletics 60m hurdles Champion.

Megan told Athletics NI, “I know it wasn’t a PB which is a bit disappointing,” she said. “But I am so pleased to be a part of that race at the World Indoor Championships. It’s been a fantastic experience. I achieved my goals by being here; the staff were reminding me to enjoy the experience.

The 20-year-old added, “To run in this arena under that pressure and with that atmosphere was a very different experience for me. I think I coped with it quite well.”

European 1500m medallist Ciara Mageean was part of a strong 1500m field.  Unfortunately, like Amy and Megan earlier that day, Ciara was forced to bow out of the competition in the opening stages.  Lining up in the third 1500m heat, Ciara claimed 7th place in a time of 4:11.81.

After the race, the New Balance Manchester Team athlete spoke to Athletics Ireland, saying “I’m disappointed but I know I’m running better than that.”

On Saturday evening, Ben Reynolds was in competition in the 60m hurdles and the 27-year-old from Holywood claimed 7th place in his heat, breaking the beam in 7.89 – unfortunately this wasn’t enough for a place in the next round. 

However, the Northern Ireland international will now look for a few small improvements before lining up in the Gold Coast.

“I just have to get in personal shape. My PB is 13.48. I need sub 13.5 and if you get that, at Commonwealths, you’re generally in the mix. I’ll go off now to prepare. I’ll lengthen my sessions and work on my starts. Transfer my pace through to 12-hurdle sessions.

“I thought after the Irish national championships, I’ll just focus on Commonwealths. Getting a spot here, it would have been better if I’d done something reasonable here but I didn’t. It’s about transferring my pace through.”

Elsewhere…

Laura Graham records new personal best at London’s Big Half:

Northern Ireland international Laura Graham (Mourne Runners / Ryan Maxwell) slashed almost two minutes off her 13.1 mile personal best with a 1:15:15 finish at the inaugural running of the Big Half in London, England (Sunday 4th March 2018).

The Mourne Runners star was due to race at the Bath Half Marathon today, in the hope of sealing a place on Ireland’s IAAF World Half Marathon Championships team.  However, the race was postponed on Friday because of adverse weather conditions – but Athletics NI officials managed to get Laura a place in the Big Half, organised by the London Marathon team – and the AAI National Marathon Champion diverted to London.

These efforts payed off when Laura claimed 12th place in a stacked field, whilst recording an outstanding personal best (1:15:15); the 31-year-old’s previous best was 1:16:59.

Despite being sixteen seconds short of the 1:14:59 qualification standard for the IAAF World Championships, which take place in Valencia (Spain) later this month, the mother of four was understandably delighted with the personal best performance, saying “I surprised myself today – I wasn’t sure I had that but I trusted in my training and our race plan – it worked.  I’m happy! Of course I would love to have dipped into the 1:14’s but that will come in time.  I know it’s there now.”

Approximately 12,000 competitors took to the streets of London for the prestigious event, with Mo Farah winning men’s race in 1:01:40 (1st place) and Charlotte Purdue taking the ladies title in 1:10:29 (1st place).