Northern Ireland news

Emer McKee runs world's fastest 5k for a 12-year-old

Emer McKee after her world record breaking 5k run at Down Royal

A SCHOOL girl has shattered a world record with an astonishing run - as competitive road racing made a spectacular return.

Emer McKee (12), a pupil at Our Lady and St Patrick's College in Belfast, ran 5k in an unbelievable 16:40 - even after suffering cuts to both knees in a fall.

It was the stand-out result from a weekend of races at Down Royal on Sunday, the first since lockdown restrictions were eased.

Already a talent on roads, cross country and track and a regular first finisher at weekly parkruns, Emer took more than 30 seconds off the best for a 12-year-old girl.

The performance has caused international athletes to take note.

North Belfast Harriers AC was the first to recognise the record-breaking run on Twitter.

The previous best of 17:16, the famous club said, stood for four years.

Emer's own club, Willowfield Harriers, described it as "an amazing run from an unbelievable young athlete".

Her proud mother Catherine told The Irish News last night that Emer started running three years ago with her family at parkrun.

"Training has only started again. She had been going out on her own during lockdown and training by herself the last few months," she said.

"She ran 17:47 in October at Down Royal and was told she was six seconds off a world record for an 11-year-old. She was determined that when she turned 12 she'd beat it. That was in December but there were no races.

"She ran 16:37 on her own around Victoria Park a few weeks ago. She is so determined and worked really hard to do it. She is delighted."

Yesterday, Emer was playing Gaelic football as after school sport made a welcome return. She also plays for Bredagh.

In a tweet, her school hailed her record, describing Emer as "a phenomenal talent".

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