Athletics

Kelly Neely wins 800 metres at European Indoors

City of Lisburn's Kelly Neely  
Malcolm McCausland

CITY OF LISBURN'S Kelly Neely capped a memorable third day of action at the European Masters’ Indoor Championships in Ancona, Italy with an emphatic victory in the women’s 800m.

It is the first time the championships have visited Ancona, a rundown seaport on Italy’s Adriatic coast, and famous for it being the first city that Julius Caesar took after crossing the Rubicon.

To date, Irish athletes have amassed five gold, two silver and four bronze medals, helping the country to an elevated 13th position of the 33 countries that have managed to make it to the medals table so far.

There was no going back either for Neely, who came into the women’s M35 final as hot favourite after winning the World outdoor title in Lyon last summer and putting together an impressive series of results over the winter.

The Lisburn fitness instructor was the first to respond as the starter’s gun reverberated around the Palaindoor Arena and quickly moved into the lead followed by Britain’s Zoe Doyle.

However, Neely’s class was obvious as she went further and further ahead, eventually winning by a massive six seconds in 2:09.04, while Doyle paid for her impetuousness by slipping back to finish out of the medals in fourth.

Earlier in the session, Waterford man Joe Gough had shown no signs of jetlag from a trip to Oregon with an emphatic win in the men’s M60. Ten days earlier, Gough had finished second in the demonstration event over that distance at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland. The Kilkenny council worker bided his time until the last lap before kicking away to win in 2:16.76 – a time many half his 63 years would struggle to achieve.

Kildare’s Niamh Fitzgerald added a bronze medal in the women’s F40 in 2:18.69, while Orangegrove’s Joy McAleer ran a good race to take fifth in the F50 race in 2:50.97.

Ireland’s walkers as ever did the business with John McMullin grabbing the gold medal in the M70 3000m Walk and followed shortly afterwards by Patrick Murphy’s third place in the M55 race.

Newry-based Geraldine Finegan was the first Irish athlete to strike gold when she won the women’s F50 Pentathlon held on the opening day. Finegan kicked off the five discipline event with a win in the 60m hurdles and ended with a victory in the 800m. Fermanagh’s Denise Toner was another northern medallist taking a creditable second in the women’s F35 3000m in 10:14.45.

The championships continue on Saturday and Sunday, with Derry Track Club’s Cathal McLaughlin and Beechmount Harrier Stuart Kennedy being among the Irish athletes involved in finals.

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