Lord Mayor of Belfast, Brian Kingston, launches IMC Belfast International Meeting
LORD Mayor of Belfast, Brian Kingston, played host at the formal launch of the IMC Belfast International Meeting that takes place on Saturday, June 24. Among those present were meeting director, Eamonn Christie; Irish Milers' Club chairman, Michael McGovern; and Mary Peters.
No stranger himself to a pair of running shoes and a member of Albertville Harriers, Kingston covered the Belfast Marathon last year in under 3:30 and intends to run it again in May. He is the second “running” Lord Mayor in Belfast in recent years after Mairtin O Muilleoir.
“I must commend Beechmount Harriers and the Irish Milers' Club for organising this event which is in its third year here in Belfast and taking place at the Mary Peters Track. We have many running events in Belfast which focus on participation and people running to the best of their ability.
“But I think this is the premier international athletics meeting we have in Belfast, where it is attracting people from much further afield and people are coming to run a fast time against internationals and internationally competitive athletes. So I think this just raises the bar in the standard and achievement in athletics in Northern Ireland.”
The prime mover behind the meeting is Christie, who also put together the previous two editions of the event. Both were remarkably successful by any standard, but the Irish Coach of the Year in 2010 wants the 2017 international to be even better than its predecessors.
“The target is to improve on last year and the year before,” said Christie.
“We had 41 per cent of people achieve a PB in all races right throughout the programme, so hopefully we can get over the 50-55 per cent mark, we'll be very happy.
“But we'd just like to let the people know we're not just there for the elite athletes, we're here for every club runner within the island of Ireland and the UK. We do pride ourselves on having close-run races and that gets not just the athletes going but also the crowd.”
As well as getting everything right on the big day, Christie will have also have to keep an eye on one of his athletes who will be going for a Commonwealth Games qualifying time in the 5000m.
Emma Mitchell has been in sparkling form indoors this winter over 1500m and 3000m but it is the 5000m mark that she has in her sights at the meeting in June.
Qualifying marks have to be obtained prior to September 30 this year and this will be one of the few opportunities the Banbridge athlete will have to get the 15:38 timing she needs to guarantee a trip to Australia's Gold Coast in April 2018.