Belfast Telegraph

Sports Awards

Seaward just misses out on bronze


By Brian Hill

Belfast's Kevin Seaward defied the atrocious heat conditions in the Gold Coast Marathon to snatch a totally unexpected fourth place, which was an agonising 18 seconds short of the bronze medal .

This performance was the perfect ending for Athletics NI most successful Games ever.

The 32-year-old teacher had to endure 35 degree temperatures which ultimately took the scalp of runaway leader Calum Hawkins of Scotland who collapsed into barriers with two kilometres remaining.

Australia's Michael Shelley took advantage of Hawkins' misfortune to successfully defend his title in 2.16 46.

A slightly disbelieving Seaward said: "I got my rhythm back early in the race when I was lying 16th. I felt good early on and was aiming for a top eight place.

"This is easily my best ever Championship race. I have now convinced myself that I can run with these guys.

"I am super-proud to be part of the NI team and everything that has been achieved."

A bitterly disappointed Paul Pollock was forced to the withdraw from the race 24 hours earlier. He had been fighting a flare up of what is possible an old tendon injury for several days.

Athletics NI officials and the small 13-person team are leaving the Gold Coast today.

The outstanding success was of course the unexpected bronze medal in the 200 metres by Leon Reid. Leon's bronze was only the second ever track medal after Philip Beattie's gold in the 400 metres hurdles in Edinburgh in 1986.

However, success is not solely measured by the number of illusive medals but also how individual athletes perform relative to their personal bests. Another key factor is the number of athletes who finish in the top eight of their events. In this respect the NI team excelled with a record five athletes who achieved this criterion .

The team got off to a dream start with Dempsey McGuigan's sixth place in the hammer against world class opposition.

Leon Reid's bronze was followed by Adam Kirk-Smith's eighth in the steeplechase while 17-year-old Kate O'Connor was eighth in the heptathlon. There was then Kevin Seaward's outstanding fourth place in the marathon.

In addition Banbridge's Emma Mitchell endured torrid weather conditions to break her own NI 10,000 metres record.

Other competitors who just missed out on finals included Ben Reynolds in the high hurdles who was the fastest non qualifier. Adam McMullen was desperately unlucky with a marginal foul in the long jump which denied him a place in the final.

Amy Foster made it out of her first round heats in both sprint events while Ciara Mageean achieved a European qualification mark in the 1,500 metres. Sommer Lecky almost cleared 1.84 metres in the high jump which is just short of her PB.

A highly satisfied Athletics NI Secretary John Allen said: "We are simply delighted with the team's performance.

"It just goes to show that with proper funding and staff support much can be achieved."

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