Sommer Lecky and Emma Mitchell in outstanding form
TWO young women vied for the athletics headlines over the weekend as northern stars shone brightly at the Ulster Schools Track and Field and across the water at the Night of 10,000m Races in London.
Strabane Academy’s Sommer Lecky soared to the top of the Commonwealth Youth rankings, equalling the national junior high jump record at Antrim Forum, while Queens University student Emma Mitchell notched up her second NI record in as many weekends, adding the 10,000m record at the Highgate Harriers meeting to her newly-acquired 5,000m mark.
Emma Mitchell went into the Highgate meeting with her confidence boosted by a NI 5000m record at Solihull just seven days earlier. The 23-year-old Eamonn Christie-coached athlete adopted similar tactics by sitting in the bunch for most of the race before finishing strongly to record 32 minutes, 51.78 seconds.
That improved Teresa Duffy’s previous mark by 40 seconds and is inside the Commonwealth Games consideration standard by over 14 seconds.
Meanwhile, Sommer Lecky’s 1.85m clearance at Antrim Forum equalled the Irish national junior record, as well as supplanting Ursula Fay at the top of the NI U18 and U20 all-time listings.
It was also the third highest in the UK or Ireland to date this season and puts the 16-year-old Castlederg girl in pole position for the gold medal at the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas this July.
The other three members of the team bound for the Caribbean also took advantage of the generally conducive conditions to show off their talents.
Bangor Grammar’s Aaron Sexton, who may be lost to the sport in the near future as he is already a member of the Irish Rugby’s development squad, raced to an impressive sprint double in the intermediate boys’ age group with 10.97/21.67 clockings.
Having her wrist in plaster did not prevent Methodist College’s Anna McAuley from taking a 100m/high jump double in the corresponding girls’ age group despite being pushed all the way to the line in the sprint by Lauren Roy from Slemish Integrated.
And Davicia Patterson set new figures in the intermediate girls’ 300m with a 39.18 posting much to the satisfaction of coach Paul Magee.
Others to catch the eye were Wallace High’s Victoria Lightbody, who got the better of arch rival Cara Laverty from Thornhill College to post a new record of 2:15.57 in the minor girls’ 800m; Friends’ School student James Edgar just managed to catch 800m winner Fintan Stewart, from Lumen Christi in Derry, on the final home straight to complete a 1500m/5000m double in the senior boys’ category and St Malachy’s Cormac O’Rourke marked himself out as a potential middle-distance star of the future with a breathtaking final 120m to win the intermediate boys’ 800m.
In the field events, the Strabane domination of the senior boys’ javelin continued with Holy Cross student Gareth Crawford getting out to 59.64m on his best throw to take the title; Belfast High Schools’ Iona McPherson was in a class of her own in the intermediate girls’ triple jump and Methody’s Ethan McIlroy cleared 1.86m in the inter boys’ high jump to take home the gold medal.
These were just a few who contributed to a memorable day’s sport, with the organisers to be complimented on running an eight-hour programme with clock-like precision and not least the knowledgeable commentary of John Glover whose informative monologue throughout the day added an entirely new dimension to the unfolding proceedings for an obviously appreciative audience.