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Mageean keen to keep making strides after defending NI crown

 

By Brian Hill

Portaferry's Ciara Mageean followed her stirring performance over 1,500 metres in the Rome Grand Prix meeting 48 hours earlier with an easy defence of her 800 metres title at the weekend's NI and Ulster Senior Championships at the Mary Peters Track.

The European bronze medallist was one of the stars of a talent-laden meeting with record entries where Ciara was one of seven qualified athletes for next year's Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Competitors had to contend with an erratic and swirling wind and following her victory over the two lap race in a time of 2 mins 7.49 secs, newly qualified physiotherapist Ciara said: "My legs felt heavy after travelling here from my Rome race. I was super-nervous before Rome but those races are where I want to be. You have to fight at that level and be strong in the home straight.

"To run 4 mins 4 secs in June is great but I want to be kicking in for the big challenge of the World Championships in the London Olympic stadium in August. I will be racing at that venue next month in the Anniversary Games."

Sprinter Leon Reid was in a class of his own when achieving a double sprint victory in the 100 metres (10.59 secs) and 200 metres (21.12 secs). However, it was a frustrating day for the European U23 silver medallist as he just missed out on a games qualification time in his 200 heat where he recorded 20.81 secs which is a mere .04 secs shy of the required standard.

A strong wind against the runners slowed his time in the final while unstable blocks did him no favours in his 100 metres race.

However the 23-year-old, who competed in the Glasgow Games in 2014, declared he was confident of achieving the necessary 200 metres time for Australia, especially as he can also rely on his 100 metres form where he recently set a personal best of 10.33 secs.

There was a new Northern Ireland record in the hammer throw, where 27-year-old Hayley Murray broke her own four-year record with figures of 59.49 metres to elevate her to the UK top 10.

This takes the Rugby-based woman to within two metres of the games standard. Edinburgh's Susan McKelvie also broke the old record with a 58.43 metre effort.

Another games hopeful is Cheltenham's Mollie Courtney who won a wind-affected 100 metres hurdles in 13.61 secs. Loughborough's Megan Marrs was delighted with a PB runner-up spot of 13.68 secs.

Former English Schools champion Mollie, whose dad is from Belfast, said: "I am within .03 secs of the standard this season and I know it will come as I am in better shape than ever. I found the wind frustrating today."

As usual, the 400 metres events provided the most competitive races of the day.

In the women's event, up and coming 16-year-old Davicia Patterson of Beechmount pressurised Irish international Catherine McManus right to the line with victory going to the Dublin City woman in 54.36 secs.

Patterson, who will be competing in the Commonwealth Youth Champs next month, was second in 54.50 secs which was a huge one second PB.

The men's 400 did not disappoint with a quality victory by Ballymena's Craig Newell who has set PBs in all his races this season.

He was timed at 47.31 secs ahead of Crusaders' Ben Maze (47.55 secs) and Nenagh's Paul White (47.88 secs).

The 1,500 metres races were marked by impressive solo performances. Queen's University's Emma Mitchell wasted little time in dispatching the opposition with a 60 second last lap for victory in 4.24.18. Emma is Gold Coast-bound with recent NI records over 5,000 and 10,000 metres.

Letterkenny's Danny Mooney made a valiant attempt to get the Games 1,500 metres standard of 3.41.10.

However, despite the assistance of team-mate Darren McBrearty, Danny had to fight the wind alone over the last 500 metres to finish three seconds slower in 3.44.40. Adam Kirk Smith, who is qualified for the games steeplechase, was third in 3.50.45.

Four other games qualifiers enjoyed easy victories. Top Irish sprinter Amy Foster took the 200 metres in 24.13 secs, Ben Reynolds won the high hurdles in 13.99 secs and long jumper Adam McMullen was victorious in the long jump with his best performance at this venue of 7.64 metres.

Finn Valley's Sommer Leckey, who has also been selected for the Commonwealth Youth Games, won the high jump with 1.70 metres.

Belfast Telegraph

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