Belfast Telegraph

NI athletes handed Gold Coast opportunity in Manchester

By Brian Hill

Seven Commonwealth Games qualified athletes are included in a Northern Ireland team which competes tonight in Manchester in an international meeting against England, Scotland and Wales.

In addition to the seven who are qualified to compete on the Gold Coast next year, the meeting will give others a further opportunity to acquire the necessary standard before the end of a long season.

These include Jason Harvey of Crusaders in the 400 metres hurdles plus Rugby's Hayley Murray who has twice this season broken her NI hammer record which now stands at 59.57 metres.

Commonwealth Youth Games high jump gold medallist Sommer Lecky of Finn Valley is expected to do well given her success this season with an Irish leading personal best of 1.85 metres.

Top sprinter Amy Foster, of Lisburn AC, recently set an Irish Championship record in the 100 metres of 11.43 seconds. She races over 200 metres in Manchester plus the sprint relay.

Newcastle steeplechaser Kerry O'Flaherty is back to full fitness following injury and will be hoping to record a good time against English champion Iona Lake who recently set a PB of 9 mins 45 secs.

Commonwealth qualified Molly Courtney goes in the 100 metres hurdles and Adam McMullen competes in the long jump.

Birchfield's Leon Reid who spectacularly snatched third place over 200 metres in the British Championships is a key member of the 400 metres relay team which also includes NI champion Craig Newell, Andrew Mellon and Ben Maze.

This quality quartet could well challenge the Northern Ireland record, set back in 1998, of 3 mins 7.27 secs.

At Paisley Park in Belfast tonight (6.30pm) there will be a 50th anniversary commemorative event to celebrate the first four minute mile in the province, by former Olympic champion Kip Keino. On that night in 1967 Keino defeated NI's first four minute miler Derek Graham who will be in attendance with other local athletics figures.

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