EVENT PREVIEW- NI & ULSTER SENIOR TRACK & FIELD CHAMPIONSHIPS 2018
08 June 2018
An abundance of athletic talent will descend on the Mary Peters Track for this weekend’s Northern Ireland & Ulster Senior Track & Field Championships – the event also incorporates the Under 18 and Under 20 Championships (Saturday 9th June 2018)
Well-known names will battle it out against a number of emerging stars for silverware and a portion of the generous £2,000 prize purse on offer from hosts Athletics Northern Ireland.
In what should be one of the highlights of the day, top sprinters Aaron Sexton (North Down AC) and Jason Smyth (Derry Track Club) will go head-to-head over both 100m and 200m.
Last weekend, Aaron produced a new Northern Ireland Under 20 100m record of 10.52 on his way to victory at the Irish Schools Championships, taking the 12-year-old record off Jason. However, the Paralympic star remains the NI senior 100m record holder with an excellent 10.22.
In the 200m, Aaron has a best of 21.43 (an NI Under 20 record), while Jason boasts a personal best of 20.94. Jason Harvey (Crusaders AC) will compete over 200m.
After excellent performances at the Irish Schools, junior athletes Michael McCauley (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Conor Crowe (Unattached) and Lauren Roy (City of Lisburn AC) will be hoping for further progression.
Another interesting battle will see former Love Island reality TV star Theo Campbell (Birchfield Harriers) come up against local men Craig Newell (Ballymena & Antrim AC) and Andrew Mellon (Crusaders AC) in the 400m. For all that is said of his TV fame, Theo’s athletic ability should be the focus come race day, and he has ability, with a personal best of 46.02 (2016); in 2017 he ran 46.81. Craig has a best of 47.31, which saw him take senior gold at this event last year, while Andrew has clocked 46.80.
In the ladies equivalent (400m), guest Catherine McManus (Dublin City Harriers) will be worth watching. The Irish international will also line up in the 200m, were she will face fellow international Sinead Denny (DSD AC). In-form Under 19 athlete Davicia Patterson (Beechmount Harriers), who two weeks ago ran a new personal best, Northern Ireland record and IAAF World Junior Championships ‘A’ standard of 53.64 will also compete over 200m and 400m.
Northern Ireland international’s Ben Reynolds (North Down AC) and Mollie Courtney (Cheltenham AC) should dominate the 110m hurdles and 100m hurdles respectively. Multi-Event athletes Sarah Connolly (North Down AC) and Anna McCauley (City of Lisburn AC) will also race over the 100m hurdles – Sarah will also be in action in the High Jump alongside Anna McIlmoyle (City of Lisburn AC), while Anna McCauley will also compete in the Long Jump and Shot Putt.
As always, the 1500m event has attracted a wealth of talent. NI 10,000m and 5,000m Champion Emma Mitchell (QUB AC) and Rio Olympian Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) are just two of those who will be chasing gold – two seconds split the pair in terms of personal bests (on record), with Emma having run 4:14 (indoor) and Kerry a quicker 4:12 (outdoor). In the men’s event, Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC) should lead the way.
Jack Moore (Carmen Runners), Cara Laverty (City of Derry AC), Sean M McGinley (Olympian YC) and Dylan McBride (Willowfield Harriers) are athletes to look out for in the 1500m age group races.
Former World Masters 800m Champion Kelly Neely (City of Lisburn AC) will come up against Rachel Gibson (North Down AC), Amy Hamill (Glaslough Harriers) and Zoe Carruthers (City of Lisburn AC), while in the men’s 800m, Olympic soccer star David Leavy (City of Lisburn AC), who last month burst onto the Paralympic scene with a European Para Championship standard of 4:25.35, will line-up alongside Annadale Striders pair Callum Crawford-Walker and Conall Kirk, as well as Letterkenny AC’s former European Indoor semi-finalist Darren McBrearty, amongst others.
In the age group 800m events, indoor Champions Aine Corcoran (Shercock AC), Joshua Courtney (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Matthew Willis (Lagan Valley AC) and Adam Hilditch (Dromore AC) will be in action. Craig McMeechan of North Down AC will compete in the Under 20 800m.
Current NI 5k (Road) Champion Neil Johnston (Springwell RC) will aim to double up with the 5,000m title, but he will come up against a strong field, which includes Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers), Aaron Doherty (City of Derry AC), Conan McCaughey (Derry Track Club) and Conor Bradley (City of Derry AC), who with a personal best of 14:01.86, will prove hard to beat.
In the ladies 5,000m race, there will be an interesting battle between Northern Ireland international’s Laura Graham (Mourne Runners), Jessica Craig (North Down AC) and Rebekah Nixon (Dromore AC).
Commonwealth Games star Adam McMullen (Crusaders AC) will headline the men’s Long Jump and he’ll be hoping to recapture the form which saw him nearly break the famous 8 metre mark with a 7.99m leap for victory at the AAI National Indoor Championships earlier this year.
Lydia Mills (Ballymena & Antrim AC) will be chasing gold in the ladies Long Jump and Triple Jump, while in the Men’s Shot Putt, NI Under 20 record holder James Kelly, who has twice hit IAAF World Junior Championships standards, will feature.
Up and coming junior athletes Gareth Crawford (Lifford Strabane AC), Jai Benson (Lagan Valley AC), Ryan Henderson (Lifford Strabane AC), Ryan Nixon-Stewart (City of Lisburn AC), Isobel Doyle (Oriel AC), Erin Fisher (City of Lisburn AC), Christopher Kearns (Finn Valley AC), Ellen McCartney (City of Lisburn AC) and Jack Magee (Windsor, Slough & Eton AC) are just some of those who will add depth to an exciting timetable of field events.
A provisional timetable is available HERE.