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More records tumble as Northern Ireland stars sparkle on the track

By Brian Hill

Northern Ireland athletes continued their record-breaking spree this season with more new top times in the Diamond League Anniversary Games at the Olympic Stadium in London.

In the 4x100 metres relay, the Northern Ireland team recorded a time of 40.35 seconds for seventh place, which  took 0.35 seconds off the previous record of 40.70 seconds set in the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur. The event was won by Australia in 39.08 seconds.

The team of Paralympic star Jason Smyth, British Championships bronze medallist Leon Reid, Dean Adams and Christian Robinson were under some pressure to perform following the Belfast International a few days ago when they dropped the baton.

There were no such difficulties yesterday in front of a 50,000 crowd. The team ignored the difficult inside lane to execute slick changeovers  which enabled Robinson to cross the line for the new record.

The delighted quartet now have their sights on the Commonwealth Games qualification mark of 39.70 seconds.

Northern Ireland Relay reserve athlete Michael McAuley was a member of the All Stars team which finished eighth in 41.84 seconds.

Not to be outdone, Portaferry’s Ciara Mageean continued her sparkling season with a superb seventh place finish in a time of 4 minutes 22.40 second, taking eight seconds off her previous best time. This places the 25-year-old second in the Irish all time list behind Sonia O’Sullivan.

Against a world-class field, Mageean ran a controlled race in the top six where a ferocious pace was set by Scotland’s Laura Muir and Kenya’s Helen Obiri. The pair fought it out in the home straight with Obiri taking the victory in a national record of 4.16.56. Muir was second in a personal best time of 4.18.03.

Mageean took the scalps of several British and other internationally renowned athletes and said afterwards: “That was a really hard race but all these Diamond League races are. I am really happy with that especially when I took so much off my personal best. Things are shaping up really well this season and I am looking forward to the World Championships here next month.”

In a classy 800 metres, Letterkenny’s Mark English was tailed off and finished 11th in 1 minute 47.04 seconds. The race was won by Botswana’s Nijel Amos in 1.43.04.

Sir Mo Farah, meanwhile, reiterated he has nothing to hide as he defended himself against further leaks from Russian hackers. The four-time Olympic champion was speaking after hackers Fancy Bears released documents they claimed were from the sport’s governing body, the IAAF.

The collective released a tranche of documents and emails on its website, claiming they wanted “to show the scale of doping violations in track and field” and shine a light on flaws in the current doping measures.

The IAAF later apologised to the athletes involved and there is no suggestion of wrongdoing by Farah.

Farah won the 3000 metres at the Anniversary Games and, afterwards, defended himself in the wake of the latest leak.

He said: “There’s no secrets to what I do. My life is not as easy as people make out. It’s hard work, it’s about grafting. I wish you guys (the media) would understand a little more and write down the facts.

“I love what I do, I enjoy what I do and I do it with passion and love. I’m sick of repeating myself. I have never ever failed a drugs test.

“I know there are a lot of people who are behind me, the whole nation, it’s just a small minority of people who think because you have success you must be doing something.

“I would never ever fail a drugs test and I believe in a clean sport.

Belfast Telegraph

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