Belfast Telegraph

Sports Awards

Hill and Donnelly lead charge as Northern Ireland competitors make their mark

By Graham Luney

Northern Ireland athletes continued to make a big impact at the Commonwealth Games on day two of the action on Australia's Gold Coast.

Swimmer Danielle Hill qualified for today's final of the 50m freestyle but she was still disappointed after finishing eighth in her 100m backstroke semi-final.

The Larne teenager said that pool conditions led to her failing to secure a European qualifying time in the 100m backstroke.

"Tonight I was going after my European qualifying time and unfortunately I fell short of that but in these conditions that was the reason why and it wasn't anything to do with my swimming," she said.

"Everyone did the same race from the same starting block so I accept it.

"I wasn't expecting my earlier performance and to secure a final place is incredible. I have never been in that situation, it's a new challenge and I'll need to take it in my stride."

Hill was fifth in her 50m freestyle semi-final in a time of 25.80 seconds to progress as the eighth fastest qualifier.

Conor Ferguson finished eighth in the 100m backstroke final and dedicated his performance to his uncle who is battling cancer.

"A lot of things have happened recently and I want to dedicate the swim tonight to my uncle who has got cancer," said the 18-year-old who clocked 55.01 seconds after qualifying fourth fastest.

"That's for my uncle Kev," he added.

Ferguson's time of 55.01 was slower than the time of 54.48 he set in his semi-final on Thursday.

Jordan Sloan missed out on a place in the 200m freestyle final by just eight hundredths of a second, finishing fourth in his heat in 1:48.16.

James Brown was 21st overall in a time of 1:53.23.

Jamie Graham was fourth in his heat of the 100m breaststroke in 1:03.22 but was disqualified for two dolphin kicks on his turn, costing him a place in the semi-finals.

There was more positive news for the NI men's 4x100m relay team of Curtis Coulter, Calum Bain, David Thompson and Sloan as they qualified sixth for the final by coming fourth in their heat in 3:59.57.

The quartet came home seventh in the final in 3:20.03 after Sri Lanka were disqualified.

Para-swimmer Barry McClements set a new personal best in the heats of the men's S9 100m freestyle with 1:00.93, leaving him fourth in his heat and seventh overall for the final.

McClements went on to clinch seventh in the final, bettering his previous best by recording 1:00.34.

Boxing medal hope Steven Donnelly beat Kyran Jones of Wales to reach the last 16 in the middleweight division.

The Ballymena fighter was awarded the points decision on four of the five judges' scorecards and will now face Gibrilla Kamara of Sierra Leone in his next contest tomorrow.

"I'm very tired after a very hard fight in which I had to dig in," said Donnelly.

"The first fight is always the hardest but once the competition goes on I'll get better and better. He was a tricky lad and I know him from our training camp. He's young but I controlled that and it was a good win. I knew I had done enough as I caught him with cleaner shots. I'm a lot stronger and I'm feeling great. That's the ball rolling for the team and it's a positive start."

In track cycling, Robyn Stewart was ninth in qualifying for the women's sprint but was beaten by Emma Cumming from New Zealand in the last 16.

In the women's individual pursuit, Eileen Burns finished 17th.

In table tennis, Northern Ireland beat Trinidad and Tobago 3-1 in their second group game, Owen Cathcart and Paul McCreery taking singles wins and the two combining to win the doubles.

The NI team then defeated Mauritius 3-0 to book a quarter-final encounter against England today. Ashley Robinson and McCreery won their singles matches, with Cathcart and McCreery again combining to take victory in their doubles match.

Catherine Beattie is still alive in the singles bowls after beating Malia Kioa from Tonga 21-13.

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