Record-breaking Zoe Brown flying high
... and Amy leaves them in her wake with terrific run
Zoe Brown continued her stunning season in style with another pole vault record at last night's international athletics meeting at the Mary Peters Track.
In a brilliant display, with a tricky cross wind to deal with, Zoe set a Northern Ireland All-Comers record of 4.31m.
This heralded the start of a successful evening for a number of Northern Ireland athletes bound for this month's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Zoe, currently ranked second in the Commonwealth, was delighted with her performance.
“I am happy with that, especially in Belfast as you can never rely on good wind conditions,” said the 30-year-old.
“I cleared 4.31 easily and had two good attempts at 4.41. I am in the form of my life and will next be competing in the Cork City Sports in a few days time.”
Local sprinters followed Zoe's lead with impressive victories in the 100m.
Ireland number one Amy Foster of Lisburn AC was a clear winner in 11.69 seconds ahead of Wigan's Hayley Jones (11.80).
Amy said: “It was nice to get a win on my home ground although my start wasn't great.
“The time was a bit slow but then I didn't run full out at the end.
“I’m now aiming for the Irish Championships in Dublin.”
Birchfield's Leon Reid, whose mother hails from Belfast, was a similarly convincing winner in the 100m where he recorded 10.63 ahead of Shercock's Craig Lynch (10.70).
“That wasn't bad at all and I feel that everything at the minute is going well following my accident in Belgium where I was knocked out when I was warming up,” he explained.
“I am now seriously thinking of racing over 100 in the Glasgow Games prior to my specialist event which is the 200.”
There was a major upset in the women's 400m hurdles where Ballymena's Christine McMahon was hot favourite following her recent European qualification time of 56.97 seconds.
However, in a quality field, the QUB student made a mistake when clearing a hurdle half way through the race which badly affected her in the home straight.
Despite a valiant effort to stay with the leaders she had to settle for third in 58.85 behind winner Aisha Naibe-Wey of Herne Hill who won in 58.54 and Ferrybank's Jessie Barr who was also given 58.85.
In the 1500m, probably the best quality event of the evening, top Irish miler and European Team champion Paul Robinson fought grimly in the home straight to secure a narrow victory in an impressive 3.40.39.
This was marginally ahead of Australian record-holder Ryan Gregson (3.40.60) and Villanova's Sam McEntee (3.41.33).
Robinson commented that he had now acquired a lot of confidence to cope with very fast final laps as was the case in his tactical Euro race in Tallinn where he was easily the fastest athlete in the final 200m.
Possibly the best performance of the night came in the men's 400m, Letterkenny's Mark English securing a resounding victory over European Team champion Brian Gregan of Clonliffe. English's time of 46.56 was a personal best by over half a second.
Glasgow Games-bound Jason Harvey will be a little disappointed with his fifth in 48.01.
In the men's high hurdles, Glasgow-bound Ben Reynolds had to settle for a winning time of 13.81 seconds ahead of Birchfield's Julian Ortiz (14.25). Reynolds said he was badly affected at the start when his blocks slipped.
In the women's 800m the unfortunate withdrawal of QUB's Katie Kirk left the way clear for an impressive victory for arch-rival Hannah Tarver of Edinburgh who had a close victory in 2.02.72 over Australia's Selma Kagen (2.02.98).
Victory in the men's 800m went to Kenya's Reuben Bett in 1.47.64 while world relay bronze medallist Shana Cox took the 400m in 53.97.
There was also victory in the men's 5,000m for Australia's Ben St Lawrence in 13.27.
WOMEN: 100m: 1st A Foster (Lisburn) 11.69; 2nd H Jones (Wigan) 11.80; 3rd C McManus (DCH) 11.92. 400m hurdles: 1st A Naibe-Wey (Herne Hill) 58.54; 2nd J Barr (Ferrybank) 58.85; 3rd C McMahon (Ballymena) 58.85; 400m: 1st S Cox (Woodford) 54.01; 2nd K McAslan (Sale) 54.30; 3rd L Maddox (Swansea) 55.34; 800m: 1st H Tarver (Edinburgh) 2.02.72; 2nd S Kajan (Australia) 2.02.98; 3rd L Crowe (Riocht) 2.03.23.
MEN: 100m: 1st L Reid (Birchfield) 10.63; 2nd C Lynch (Shercock) 10.70; 3rd J Browning (Ballymena) 10.95. 400m: 1st M English (Letterkenny) 46.56; 2nd B Gregan (Clonliffe) 46.92; 3rd P Murphy (Ferrybank) 47.75. 800m: 1st R Bett (Kenya) 1.47.64; 2nd R Tully (Star of the Sea) 1.49.15; 3rd J Thomas (Cardiff) 1.49.60. 1500m 1st P Robinson (St
Cocos) 3.40.39; 2nd R Gregson (NSW) 3.40.60; 3rd S McEntee (Villanova) 3.41.33.
How our athletes bound for Glasgow performed
AMY FOSTER (100m): The Northern Ireland 100m record holder — 10.40 seconds set in Florida in May. This also equals the Irish record now jointly held with Ailish McSweeney. Finallist over 200m in World University Games in China in August 2011 where she managed a PB of 23.53. Competed in 2010 Delhi Games. Amy said she was pleased with last night’s run and is hoping to get into the big Glasgow Grand Prix.
CHRISTINE McMAHON (400m hurdles): Ran 56.97 seconds in Belgium on June 28 which is a European qualification time. Currently number one in 2014 Irish list and sixth in Irish All-Time list. The QUB student competed in the 2010 Games in Delhi in the 4x400 relay. Commented that she was disappointed at her mistake at the sixth hurdle last night but will learn from this in preparing for her meeting in Belgium at the weekend.
ZOE BROWN (pole vault): Has set three Northern Ireland records in 2014. Latest of 4.40m in Athlone on June 23 ranks her second in Commonwealth Games list behind Australia's Alana Boyd (4.61m). Represented Northern Ireland in Commonwealth Games in 1998 in gymnastics and in the pole vault in 2002 (seventh) and 2006 (twelfth). Works as fitness adviser. Zoe feels she is in her best ever form and will probably have to cope with cross winds in Glasgow as was the case last night at Upper Malone.
LEON REID (200m): Silver medallist in European Junior Championships 200m in Rieti last July. PB of 20.62 which is fourth fastest in Great Britain Junior All-Time list. Has 100m PB of 10.44. Sixth in British Championships 200m on Sunday. Ran 20.95 in his heat. Reid said he was proud to wear the Northern Ireland vest and is seriously considering competing over 100m and 200m in Glasgow.
BEN REYNOLDS (110m hurdles): Broke his own Northern Ireland record at Mary Peters Track in June last year in a time of 13.49 seconds. Semi-finalist in World Indoors in Istanbul in March 2012. Finished third in recent European Team meeting in Tallinn. Reynolds said his preparation for the Games is going well and it was unfortunate that his blocks slipped last night.
JASON HARVEY (400m hurdles): PB of 50.13 seconds when second in Irish Championships in Dublin last July. Has a season's best of 51.13 in Belgium on May 31 and 400m PB of 47.15. Was a bit disappointed with his fifth place last night particularly as he set a season's best last week in the 400m hurdles.
PETER GLASS (decathlon): Recorded 7,510 points when winning the Scottish Events Championships last July. PBs of 11.18 seconds (100m) and 51.81 (400m). Third Commonwealth Games decathlete from North Down AC.