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Jason Smyth makes final rush for Commonwealth Games glory

By Brian Hill

Eight of the 11 athletes who are qualified to be considered for next month's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow will be among 300 competitors in Saturday's Ulster Senior Championships at the Mary Peters Track in Belfast.

The elite eight, plus a few others close to the standard, will be keen to put in good performances ahead of the Athletics NI selection process, with a Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Council team announcement for all sports early next week.

The 100m will be a nail-biting affair for multi Paralympic champion Jason Smyth who falls outside the qualified list of 11.

The race will be his final opportunity to achieve the Games mark of 10.30 seconds.

The City of Derry athlete has had an indifferent season by his own high standards and will be desperate to improve on his season's best time of 10.40 set in Florida back in April .

Last weekend in Belgium Smyth lost for the first time in many years to an Irish sprinter when Steven Colvert of Crusaders got the verdict in a photo finish.

At Upper Malone, the Eglinton man will face more tough competition from Irish No 3 David Hynes plus title holder Craig Lynch of Shercock.

One of the meeting's stars is sure to be latest NI record breaker Zoe Brown. Last weekend the 30-year-old broke her own NI pole vault record for the second time in three months with a clearance of 4.32m when taking the Welsh title.

Brown, aiming for a fourth Games, is now ranked third in the Commonwealth. She missed out on the Delhi Games four years ago but now has the credentials as a possible medallist in Glasgow.

High hurdler Ben Reynolds from North Down is another athlete in top form. He will be attempting to get close to his NI record of 13.49 seconds set at the Mary Peters a year ago.

This would give him a current top eight Games ranking.

Top Irish ranked 100m runner Amy Foster of Lisburn AC achieved the standard a month ago when setting a new NI record of 11.40 seconds.

The 25-year-old has opted for the 200m where she will face arch rival Phil Healy of Bandon AC.

Up and coming 16-year-old Roseanne McGuigan of Lisburn, a finalist in last week's Euro Youth Olympics, is also racing.

In the absence of Foster the 100m should be a battle between Healy and DCH's Catherine McManus with last year's runner-up Megan Marrs of Lisburn also featuring.

In the 200m, Games qualified Leon Reid of Birchfield will face title holder Jason Harvey who has the necessary Glasgow time for the 400m hurdles.

The 400m includes Ballymena's Christine McMahon and Lagan Valley's Katie Kirk who have achieved the Games standard in the 400m hurdles and 800m respectively. However both will be tested by Irish No 2 Ciara McCallion. The men's 400m will include Glasgow qualified decathlete Peter Glass.

Second fastest ever Irish 400m hurdler Jessie Barr of Ferrybank is a surprise entrant who will be favourite over title holder Mandy Gault of Lagan Valley.

In the 800m, Newry's Aislinn Crossey will be striving to gain a B standard of 2.09.10 to be considered for next month's World Juniors in the US.

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