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Commonwealth Games: McGuigan proves he is not thrown by the big stage


Hammer time: Dempsey McGuigan felt he could relax in yesterday's final after throwing his fourth best distance of 66.16 metres in the heats on Monday

Hammer time: Dempsey McGuigan felt he could relax in yesterday's final after throwing his fourth best distance of 66.16 metres in the heats on Monday

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Lagan Valley's Katie Kirk

Lagan Valley's Katie Kirk

Kevin Scott

Hammer time: Dempsey McGuigan felt he could relax in yesterday's final after throwing his fourth best distance of 66.16 metres in the heats on Monday

Finn Valley's Dempsey McGuigan rose to the occasion last night in the final of the Hammer at the Commonwealth Games in Hampden Park, finishing with a throw of 64.79 metres to finish 11th overall.

In his heat on Monday, the US-based student, who is studying at the University of Mississippi, qualified for the biggest day of his athletics life with a throw of 66.16 metres, which was his fourth best ever.

Last night, he said he felt a lot more relaxed in the final because he had already proved that he could compete with some of the best throwers in the world.

McGuigan again paid tribute not only to his deceased coach Alan Bertram but also his new coach, with whom he was working with in America.

McGuigan said that as he is only 20-years-old, he was looking forward to many more years of competition and hopefully success in his event.

High hurdler Ben Reynolds had a disappointing performance in the 110 metres hurdles, only managing sixth place in a time of 13.96 seconds, which was one of his slowest of the season despite a favourable wind.

The race was won by Jamaica's Andrew Riley in 13.47 seconds with 2010 Commonwealth champion Andy Turner clattering the second hurdle and failing to finish.

Twenty three-year-old Reynolds, from Holywood, has had a relatively low-key season with most of his performances some way off his NI record of 13.49 seconds from a year ago.

A rather downbeat Reynolds said: "I had a feeling I wasn't up to par and this wasn't a particularly good run.

"Rhythmically, I had problems, possibly because this year I have been doing eight strides between the hurdles but have now gone to seven. However, you really need to be in shape and have the speed for seven.

"This is really the end of my season bar a few smaller races. I will concentrate on doing well in next year's European Indoors in Prague."

There was also no joy for Ballymena's Christine McMahon in the 400 metres hurdles.

She was unfortunate to be drawn in the outside lane in the A1 heat race, which was then elevated to a semi-final.

Despite running for most of the race without seeing her opponents, the QUB student battled well until the final stages. She then appeared to struggle in the home straight and staggered across the line in 58.67 seconds for fourth place after the disqualification of England's Hayley McLean.

Her time was some way short of her PB of 56.97 seconds. Coach Ian Neely commented: "Christine is very disappointed with what happened but we agreed before the race to slightly change her technique in order to compete with the opposition, who were of very high quality.

"This was a high risk strategy. Unfortunately, the plan to maintain her 15 strides between hurdles for a longer period came unstuck around the last bend.

"You learn from your mistakes and Christine will now have a second bite of the cherry in the Europeans in Zurich next month".

In the Decathlon, North Down's Peter Glass commenced the second day's competition in 14th place with 2279 points after the completion of five of the 10 events.

In the 110 metres hurdles, Glass finished second in his heat in a time of 14.94 seconds, which was close to his season's best.

He then followed up with an excellent discus throw of 45.11 metres, his second best ever behind his PB of 45.55 metres. These results elevated him to 12th after seven events.

Glass then competed in the pole vault, which is one of his strongest events. He successfully cleared 4.50 metres and then took the decision to pass on both 4.60 metres and 4.70 metres following some windy showers.

However, his gamble on vaulting his PB height of 4.80 metres narrowly failed. Despite this, his clearance at 4.50 metres lifted him to 10th place.

In the javelin, Glass managed to throw a season's best of 52.41 metres. In the final 1,500 metres event, an exhausted Glass struggled around to record a time of five minutes 10.51 seconds.

The 26-year-old finished 12th overall with 7,287 points.

Today's programme features steeplechaser Kerry O'Flaherty of Newcastle, who has been enjoying her best ever season.

She has registered an NI record of 9:52.94, which places her in the Games top 10. She also recently broke the UK Women's Premier League 2,000 metres steeplechase record.

Also racing over 800 metres is Lagan Valley's Katie Kirk, who is the British U23 and Irish Senior champion.

She will be tested in a world class field, which includes World champion Eunice Sum of Kenya.

Belfast's Jason Harvey, who goes in the 400 metres hurdles, has come right into form after recently recording his third fastest ever time of 50.64 seconds.

Belfast Telegraph