Leon Reid claims bronze for Team NI in Commonwealth Games 200m final
SPRINTER Leon Reid created Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games history yesterday when he took the bronze medal in an incident-charged 200m in Australia's Gold Coast.
The 23-year-old crossed the line in fourth but was upgraded to bronze medal place following the disqualification of England's Zharnel Hughes who appeared to have won the race.
However, on review the officials found that Hughes had stepped on the lane line close to the finish and was, sickeningly from his point of view, notified of the disqualification as he completed his victory lap draped in national flag.
The English appealed the decision without success. Even if successful, they would have found Hughes should also have been disqualified for interfering with the eventual winner Jereem Richards by throwing an errant arm across the face of the Trinidad & Tobago athlete on the home straight.
Reid had reached the final thanks to a strong charge down the home straight in the semi-final that netted him the second and final automatic qualifying spot.
The Bath-based sprinter showed the same tenacity as he came from seventh to fourth in a season's best of 20.55s. Reid's medal, which will not be presented until today on account of the controversy over the disqualification of Hughes, bridges a 28-year drought back to when Janet Boyle and Jackie McKernan both claimed silvers for Northern Ireland in New Zealand.
“I had a little cry,” Reid said.
“I'm very excited. I'm going to find my mum and celebrate tonight. I'm going jet-skiing – but after the medal ceremony.
‘‘Most importantly for the team, I hope we can all move up together. All of them were here supporting me and I feel they were there in the last 50 with me. I could hear my name being screamed and I wasn't going to give up.”
Ciara Mageean had said she was “proud” of her 13th in the 1500m earlier in the week but not surprisingly it was difficult for her to take any satisfaction from a fairly toothless performance in the heats of the 800m, finishing seventh in a modest 2:03.30.
“I'm slightly disappointed,” she said. “I gave my all in those 1500s. I was fighting in that. I prepared myself for both but this was hard stepping out here. It was either going to be really fast or slow and steady and I'd prepared myself for both. But when it stepped up, they went away.”
Kate O'Connor, the youngest member of NI's athletics team at the age of 17 years and four months, had an excellent first day in the heptathlon competition and lies ninth overnight with 3318 points.
The Dundalk schoolgirl opened up with a 14.99s clocking in the 100m hurdles and then equalled her personal best of 1.78m in the high jump. Later, she threw 11.97m in the shot before running 25.26s to finish fourth in her the 200m heat.
Adam Kirk Smith makes his debut today in the 3000m steeplechase final and the good news for Castlederg teenager Sommer Lecky is that no qualification round is necessary in the high jump and she progresses directly to tomorrow's final.