Belfast Telegraph

Games hero Leon keeps up fight for GB-Ireland switch

 

By Brian Hill

Northern Ireland's Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Leon Reid still has his sights set on switching from Great Britain and competing for Ireland in this summer's European Championships in Berlin.

The 23-year-old 200m medallist from the recent Gold Coast Games was speaking at the launch of the fifth Belfast International athletics meeting, which will be held at the Mary Peters track on Tuesday, June 26.

Reid's comments come despite the IAAF's current embargo on any athlete wishing to transfer to compete for another country.

The latest position is that the IAAF will consider the matter again at their next meeting in Buenos Aires in July, a mere three weeks before the Europeans.

A number of proposals will be considered at that meeting, one of which is that athletes should have to wait a minimum of three years before transferring to another country. Another is that countries should offer full citizenship to any athlete wishing to compete for them.

There is current uncertainty as to whether Reid falls under these proposed stipulations as his request to compete for Ireland was made before the original embargo was set by IAAF president Sebastian Coe back in February 2017.

At the time, Coe observed that the then more relaxed rules were being manipulated to enable an increasing number of athletes to compete for countries which they had little, if any, connection with. Three particular 'offending countries' were named as Turkey, Qatar and Bahrain.

A determined Reid said: "I am still waiting for a decision which will be in July. This gives me a three-week turnaround for the Europeans. I have really close connections with Ireland. I have had an Irish passport for a couple of years and most of my family are from here.

"As far as I am concerned, my application was in on time before the embargo. While this is all unsettling, I will be ready if and when the call comes."

Asked if he had adjusted to his new status as a Commonwealth medallist, he said: "It's just back to work now. I am fully fit and will be starting my season with the Manchester Street Games on Friday. I will also be competing in the European Club Championships for Birchfield plus the big Championships in Ireland."

Reid is a former European Junior and U23 silver medallist while competing for GB. He would be a major asset for the Irish team, especially after his memorable third place in Australia in a race where England's Zharnel Hughes was disqualified after a lane infringement, moving Reid up to bronze position.

Reid's time of 20.55 seconds was his second fastest ever, beaten only by his 20.38 run last year in the British Championships.

While Reid will be the star attraction in the coming Belfast International meeting, Athletics NI coach Tom Reynolds said that many others from the Gold Cost Games would also be competing.

He pointed out that the NI team had enjoyed one of their most successful Games ever, with the fact that five athletes achieved top-eight finishes.

He revealed British Championship hurdles medallists Meghan Marrs and Mollie Courtney would be competing, plus Commonwealth Youth champions Aaron Sexton (200m) and Sommer Lecky (high jump), who was 10th in the Gold Coast Games.

Others include Ben Reynolds (hurdles), Amy Foster (100m), Jack Agnew (800m wheelchair) and European bronze medallist Ciara Mageean (800m).

Belfast Telegraph

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