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Joanna’s Olympic dream in reach

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Joanna Mills

Joanna Mills

©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Joanna Mills

Ballymena’s Joanna Mills has served notice that she is firmly on course to secure London Olympics selection for Ireland for the 4 x 400 Relay Team.

The QUB dental student destroyed the field in the 400 metres event in the Antrim Borough Council sponsored NI Senior Athletics Championships at the Forum to win in 55.09 seconds.

This was a little slower than her season’s best time of 54.41 seconds recorded in Geneva two days earlier.

Joanna (19) explained: “I enjoyed this as its my home track. I wanted to race over 400 metres again as Geneva was very hot and I didn’t run my first 200 properly. My priority is to focus on the World Junior Championships in Barcelona in July.

“But I have to admit that selection for the London Olympics is at the back of my mind.”

The chances of last year’s 400 metres junior finalist (right) succeeding in racing on the biggest stage of all, are good as Joanna is currently placed third in the Irish rankings — it is likely that at least five will be selected for London.

Mills plans to race this weekend in Bedford in the AAA Junior Championships.

There was an upset in the Men’s 100 Metres where Ballymena’s Dean Adams failed to achieve a predicted hat-trick of victories.

The university student had to settle for silver in 10.92 seconds behind Liverpool’s Oliver Back who took the title in 10.87 seconds. Wetherby’s Jamie Phillips took the 200 metres in 22.33 seconds.

Best quality win of the day was probably in the Men’s 400 Metres where last year’s silver medallist, John Houston of Ballymena, won in a superb Personal Best of 48.96 secs. North Down’s Alan McComb also set a new PB of 49.48 seconds as runner-up.

Former multi-title holders took more gold medals in the Women’s middle distance events.

Lisburn’s Kelly Neely was in a class of her own in the 800 metres which she won in 2.07.05.

In the 1500 metres, the unexplained absence of Ciara Mageean left the way clear for NI steeplechase record holder Kerry Harty to capture another title in 4.27.16. Kerry, who is fresh from a five weeks break from racing, will try to set another steeplechase record at Watford on Saturday.

The Men’s 800 metres was the most competitive race of the day as Paralympic Champion Michael McKillop tried to break the field early on. However, the main contenders then moved through with in-form favourite Daniel Mooney of Letterkenny taking the title in 1.53.09, only 0.19 secs ahead o team-mate Ruari Finnegan followed by Finn Valley’s Mark Hoy.

City of Derry’s Conor Bradley went one better than last year’s silver to take the 1500 metres title from Armagh’s Stephen Kerr in 4.05.77.

Commonwealth Games’ athlete Christine McMahon of Ballymena was surprisingly challenged in the 400 metres hurdles by Lagan Vallley’s Mandy Gault. However, McMahon held on to win in 61.79 secs with Gault a mere 0.2 secs in arrears.

In the hammer, Mid-Ulster’s Andrew Doyle took the title with an impressive 57.41 metres and then followed up with victory in the shot with 14.07 metres. Ballymena’s Robert Moffett took the U-18 weight category with 61.75 metres.

In the Women’s Pole Vault, former GB international Zoe Brown successfully retained her title with a vault of 3.80 metres. North Belfast’s Conor Magill translated his good road race form to a clear win in the 5000 metres in 14.58.42.

Belfast Telegraph