Belfast Telegraph

Athletics: Reynolds is determined to clear Olympic hurdle after new PB

By Brian Hill

North Down's Ben Reynolds broke his own NI high hurdles record at the weekend to take the AAA and Inter-Counties titles in Bedford ahead of European silver medallist William Sharman.

The North Down man's time of 13.48 seconds shaves 0.01 seconds off his own record set two years ago at the Mary Peters track.

His performance is just agonisingly short of the qualification requirement of 13.47 seconds for both the World Championships in Beijing in three weeks' time and the Olympics in Rio next summer.

Twenty-four-year-old Reynolds will have further opportunities to reach that standard this weekend in both Liverpool and the Irish Championships the following day in Dublin, after which he will be hoping to join Newcastle steeplechaser Kerry O'Flaherty on the plane to China.

This is the third NI record in the space of three weeks following new figures by O'Flaherty in the steeplechase (nine minutes 42.61 seconds) and Ciara Mageean in the mile (four minutes 30.64 seconds) which took over two seconds off Amanda Crowe's 1999 record.

Reynolds' new benchmark comes as no great surprise as he has been enjoying his best season ever following an injury-plagued 2014.

The former World Indoors semi-finalist took the NI title again in some style at Upper Malone in early June and has since gone from strength to strength.

Last month he recorded three of his four fastest ever times in Loughborough (13.61 seconds), Waterford (13.62 seconds) and the Czech Republic (13.57 seconds).

Reynolds beat some key athletes in those races but he took his biggest scalp in Bedford when he easily defeated Belgrave's Sharman, who took silver in the Europeans last year.

Sharman, who has a much faster PB of 13.16 seconds, had to settle for silver again in Bedford with a time of 13.53 seconds.

All eyes will now be on the Holywood man this weekend to see if he can shave that frustratingly minimal 0.01 seconds off his new PB to realise his ambition to finally feature on the World outdoor stage.

Reynolds said: "I am certainly aiming to qualify for Beijing and will be racing in both Liverpool and Dublin to see if I can reach the standard.

"I have made a few technical adjustments this season and it seems to be really working for me.

"The first half of my race in Bedford was really good after a very fast start.

"It is a great feeling to get everything right."

In the Women's 400m hurdles, Ballymena's Christine McMahon was unlucky to just miss out on the line for silver in a race won by Jess Tappin of Thames Valley in 58.16 seconds.

McMahon, who competed in the Commonwealth Games last year, had to settle for the bronze medal after just being pipped for second by Amber Valley's Jessica Turner.

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