David Gillick getting back to his best at Belfast International
A PERSISTENT drizzle did not spoil an excellent afternoon of athletics at the Belfast International Meeting, held on the Mary Peters Track and organised by Beechmount Harriers, Athletics NI and the Irish Milers’ Club.
Irish 400m record holder David Gillick continued his return to the elite level of the sport after coming out of retirement.
The 32-year-old Dubliner had called it a day due to injury after failing to make the London Olympics, but on Saturday there were glimpses of the old Gillick, who won two European Indoor titles, as he put in a dramatic charge down the final straight.
But on this occasion it was too little, too late as England’s Theo Campbell tool the tape in 46.24 seconds to add to his 200m win.
Gillick took second in 47.24 – almost a second faster than his season opener in Italy last weekend.
There was also a warm welcome for Ciara Mageean in the mixed 3000m race.
Mageean cut her teeth at the Mary Peters Track in her formative years in the sport but has been plying her trade at UCD of late.
The Portaferry athlete arrived looking to better her excellent indoor mark of 8:55.09, but had to settle for 9:07.47 after falling off the leading pack early in the race.
John Travers hopes of a sub-eight minutes clocking in the ‘A’ 3000m were scuppered by some poor pacemaking that saw the opening two laps covered in only 2:14.
At that point the Donore Harrier ran out of patience and threw in a 61.5 circuit before going on to finish well clear in 8:03.69.
Further down the field there were outstanding performances from two young Northern Ireland athletes, with City of Lisburn’s James Edgar recording a 8:14.55 to qualify for the World Juniors, while 8:35.95 will put North Down’s Craig McMeechan in line for selection for the European Youth Olympic Festival.
The 1500m races produced contrasting last laps. Kilkenny’s 800m specialist Ciara Everard took up the lead in the women’s race just before the bell but faded to fourth as England’s Rowena Cole came through to win convincingly in 4:19.58.
Dan Studley followed pacemaker Niall Tuohy through 60 second laps to 1200m, where he found himself well clear when the Waterford man stepped off the track. The Bristol & West athlete, who was fourth in Armagh last year, was able to keep his form to win by almost three seconds in 3:45.77.
Behind him, City of Derry’s Fintan Stewart got a European Youth qualifier time with an excellent 3:57.31.
Earlier Ballymena Runners’ James Hamilton had qualified for the Rio Paralympics, winning the 1500m ‘B’ race in a personal best of 3:59.71.
European junior bronze medallist Kamil Gurdak also adopted front-running tactics in the men’s 800m.
Taking up the pace from the gun, Gurdak kept his metronome-like stride going all the way to the line, which was reached in an impressive 1:48.54 as compatriot Matusz Borkowski stole through behind him to make it a Polish one-two.
Like all good hosts, meeting director Eamonn Christie kept the best wine to last.
Kerry woman Laura Crowe led at the bell in the women’s 800m and had only 2015 winner Alexandra Bell for company with 200m to go.
Crowe still led halfway down the home straight, only for Scotland’s Katy Brown to come with a late charge to snatch victory in 2:04.05.
Further down the field, City of Lisburn’s Kelly Neely took three seconds off her own Irish record with a 2:05.56 timing.