Belfast Telegraph

Sports Awards

My Commonwealth medal is for my mum, says Northern Ireland sprinter Reid

By Brian Hill

Everyone connected with Athletics NI was celebrating last night after Leon Reid clinched Northern Ireland's first Commonwealth medal in the sport since the 1990 Games in Wellington.

Reid had always looked the most likely athlete from the 13-person squad to deliver a medal, and he did so yesterday with bronze in the 200m.

However, no one could have predicted the controversial circumstances in which the European U23 silver medallist did so.

The 23-year-old was drawn in the seventh lane in the Carrera Stadium, where the athletes blasted out of their blocks in front of a 35,000 capacity crowd.

He ran a superb bend and was to the fore. However, he was then overtaken by pre-race favourite Zharnel Hughes of England and Jereem Richards of Trinidad and Tobago.

Canada's Aaron Brown also eased past but Reid fought grimly to retain fourth place.

The Northern Ireland and All-Ireland champion recorded his second fastest ever time in 20.55 seconds.

Initially, first place was awarded to Hughes, who had the same time as runner-up Richards in 20.12 seconds. Brown took bronze in 20.34 seconds.

However, Richards protested that he had been impeded by the flailing arm of Hughes in the race to the line.

Hughes was subsequently disqualified and this decision was upheld by the Jury of Appeal despite a protest by England.

All this meant that Reid was elevated to the bronze medal.

Reid said: "I am overawed to hear this excellent news. I am friendly with Zharnel but these things happen. I thought getting a medal for my country was a long shot but I got in the mix.

"This is for my mum. This is my best performance ever on the world stage. I am sure I can go faster if I can take care of a slightly dodgy hip."

Reid then left to celebrate Northern Ireland's first athletics medal since Janet Boyle's silver in the high jump in 1990, plus a silver by Jacqui McKernan in the discus at the same Games.

Earlier, the youngest Northern Ireland competitor Kate O'Connor made an impressive start to her heptathlon campaign.

The 17-year-old started with a solid 14.99 seconds in the 100m hurdles.

She followed this with 1.78m in the high jump, which placed her fifth in the event.

O'Connor then threw 11.97m for sixth place in the shot-put and ran 25.26 seconds in the 200m for ninth place overall, giving her a total of 3,318 points after the first day.

She said: "I equalled my PB in the high jump .I have never been in front of a crowd like this before but I tried my best to relax and enjoy it. I am looking forward to the javelin tomorrow where I recently had a PB. My long jump is also fine."

Northern Ireland team captain Ciara Mageean bowed out of the Games with seventh place in her 800m heat in two minutes, 3.30 seconds.

Mageean, who had earlier raced twice over 1,500m, said: "I have run better over 800m but my legs felt flat after the 1,500m.

"I am leaving with a lot more confidence than previously. I am delighted with how our young team has performed in these Games. I will be fully supporting them for the rest of the week."

Amy Foster has now completed her double sprint programme - however, the organisers were unable to provide her with the mandatory tape measure before her first-round 200m race .

She has now received an official apology from organisers.

The competition today involves O'Connor in the final three events of the heptathlon - long jump, javelin and 800m.

Also competing for NI is steeplechaser Adam Kirk-Smith.

Belfast Telegraph

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