Belfast Telegraph

Amy Foster can inspire Ireland's pursuit of World glory

Experience: Amy Foster will lead a four-woman Irish team
Experience: Amy Foster will lead a four-woman Irish team

By Brian Hill

Sprint star Amy Foster will lead a four-woman Irish team in the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham in less than two weeks' time.

Lisburn AC's Foster (60m) will be joined by Portaferry's Ciara Mageean (1,500m) plus Republic of Ireland athletes Ciara Neville (60m) and Phil Healy (400m).

Northern Ireland representation could be enhanced should Athletics Ireland receive an invitation from the IAAF to allow City of Derry's Adam McMullen to compete in the long jump.

Foster is still absorbing the significance of her record-breaking win in the weekend's Irish Indoors where her time of 7.27 seconds broke her previous record of 7.30 seconds, jointly held with Neville and Ballymena's Anna Boyle.

The 29-year-old tweeted: "There's life in the old dog yet! Proud to be part of the strong Irish sprinting ladies squad."

Her first World Championships will go a long way towards compensating for the bitter disappointment of not being included in the 12-person Northern Ireland squad for the Commonwealth Games in April.

Mageean (25) will take Birmingham in her stride as she has already experienced competition at Olympic and World level. The Indoors competition is useful preparation for the European bronze medallist towards the challenges of the Gold Coast.

But there will be an anxious wait for McMullen to see if the IAAF considers his Northern Ireland record jump at the weekend of 7.99m to be sufficient to admit him to the Worlds.

His performance ranks him 17th in the world with 15 likely to be accepted for Birmingham. However, he could well be elevated several places as the list includes seven athletes from the US, of which a maximum of three are likely to be accepted.

High performance director Paul McNamara said: "It's been an outstanding season of indoor athletics so far, with an array of exciting performances at the National Championships."

Meanwhile, one of Northern Ireland's most prestigious series of running races has announced its full race schedule for 2018.

The Novosco 10k Grand Prix has revealed that two new races have been added, bringing the number of races up to 17 with a total prize fund of over £8,500.

New to the line-up is the Crossgar 10k and the Saintfield 10k. The series starts with the SPAR Craic 10k on Saturday, March 17 in Belfast.

Novosco managing director Patrick McAliskey said: "We're pleased to see a strong running culture emerging among newcomers, seasoned competitors and athletics clubs. We're introducing new fixtures to refresh it and make it more challenging."

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