Athletics

Leon Reid records a sprint double at Mary Peters Track

Leon Reid (right) gets the better of Jason Smyth in the men's 100m final at the NI & Ulster Senior Championships at the Mary Peters Track in Belfast
By Malcolm McCausland

PROLONGED spells of sunshine and a sprinkling of Commonwealth Games aspirants made for a memorable NI & Ulster Senior Championships at the Mary Peters Track.

A three-line whip to make an appearance if they wanted to be selected for next year’s Games in Australia meant that the top local athletes turned out for a fixture they often avoid in favour of foreign competition.

A fresh breeze that changed direction several times during the afternoon did not prevent the sprinters from grabbing the spotlight. There was an impressive double from Menapians athlete Leon Reid, who has won silver medals AT Junior and U23 level for Great Britain at European Championships.

Reid opened his account in late morning, winning a 100m heat in 10.79s into a minus 1.2 metres per second breeze. A couple of hours later he was back on the track for the final where he overcame stout resistance from Paralympic sprint star Jason Smyth in 10.59s (-1.1mps).

Smyth, in turn, had little difficulty taking the runner spot in 10.76s ahead of teenager Aaron Sexton, who won a close-fought battle for third in 10.90s.

Reid was not finished at that as he turned out later to win his 200m heat in 20.81s (+1.8mps) before bringing the curtain down on the meeting with victory in the final in 21.12s (-1.8mps). Smyth won the other 200m semi-final in 21.77s (-0.5mps) but wisely decided not to contest the final after running three races in a single afternoon for the first time in over a decade.

Ciara Mageean showed no after-effects of a season’s best over 1500m at the Golden Gala Meeting in Rome less than 48 hours earlier as the Portaferry woman romped to a comfortable win in the 800m in a modest 2:07.49s.

Emma Mitchell, who set two NI records in May, over 5000m and 10,000m, dropped down in distance to win the 1500m. The QUB athlete waited patiently through the opening laps run at pedestrian pace before striking the front at the bell. A final circuit in 61 seconds saw her come home well clear in 4:24.18s as runner-up Ann-Marie McGlynn struggled with the pace after winning a top class 10K on the roads in Dublin just days earlier.

Danny Mooney made a brave bid for a Commonwealth consideration time in the men’s 1500m (3:41.10s) but fell just over three seconds short with a 3:44.40 timing after running the second half of the race on his own. Training partner Conor Bradley took second in 3:47.89s with steeplechaser Adam Kirk-Smith recording a personal best 3:50.45s for third.

Both 400m races saw interesting tussles, with Dubliner Catherine McManus scoring over Davicia Patterson in the women’s race with a 54.36 timing. Craig Newell wore down the more experienced Ben Maze on the home straight to take men’s title in 47.31s.

As ever, the field events played second fiddle to the action on the track meaning an excellent women’s hammer competition did not receive the appreciation it merited. Hayley Murray from the Rugby and Northampton club threw 59.49m to defeat Edinburgh AC’s Susan McKelvie, whose best throw was 58.43m, adding over a metre to her own previous mark set in 2013.

Unusually, Irish number one Adam McMullen was made to scrap for the gold medal as Cork’s Alan Healy led with a 7.61m mark before the Bellaghy man pulled out a 7.64m effort late in the competition.

High jump sensation Sommer Lecky, who high jumped 1.85m at the Ulster Schools’, was content on this occasion to take the title with a 1.70m effort. Sarah Buggy also caught the eye with a 13.18m winning mark in the triple jump.

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