Belfast Telegraph

Jason Smyth on brink of Commonwealth Games exclusion

By Brian Hill

World Paralympic champion Jason Smyth has an agonising wait until tomorrow before he learns whether or not he has been selected for this summer's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

This follows his 100 metres victory at the weekend's Northern Ireland and Ulster Senior Championships, which took place at a rain-sodden Mary Peters track where the unrelenting rain resulted in the cancellation of the pole vault and high jump.

The miserable conditions did not stop speculation as to whether 26-year-old Smyth's name would be added to the 11 athletes who have already reached the qualification guideline for Glasgow.

While there is a clear expectation that the Games Council will endorse these 11, it is not known whether there will be one or two additions to a list which represents the highest ever number of athletes who have qualified from Northern Ireland.

Ireland's best sprinter in recent years is anxiously hoping this will be the case as he has not achieved the qualification time of 10.30 seconds.

Following his easy sprint win in 10.87 seconds, a rather downbeat Smyth commented: "I would not have raced in these conditions were it not for the Games selection deadline.

"I have a glimmer of hope that I might be selected. I am not where I want to be at present because of a hamstring injury I picked up a few weeks ago. This has clearly affected my preparation but I was happy with a recent time of 10.41 seconds."

Letterkenny's Danny Mooney is another athlete in the same position as he is also knocking on the selectors' door. In the 1,500 metres, Mooney made a brave and impressive attempt to get close to the very demanding qualification time of 3 minutes 40 seconds, which is the equivalent of a sub four minute mile.

City of Derry's Conor Bradley assisted him in the early stages but Mooney was then forced to plough a lonely furrow over the final 600 metres. His winning time of 4.43.86 was commendable given the conditions.

He said: "I planned this race with Conor. It is very difficult to run 3.40 so early in the season, although I was really pleased with my 3.42 PB a couple of weeks ago.

"I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I might be selected for the Game as I feel I am in the sort of form to get out of the heats in Glasgow."

Glasgow-bound 400 metres hurdler Jason Harvey was brimming with confidence after a useful 51.72 seconds victory ahead of Irish No 4 Paul Byrne, who recorded a season's best of 51.91 seconds.

Harvey said: "That was only my third race of the season so I still need to get some of the race rustiness out of my legs.I feel I am in the fastest shape of my life and a NI record down the road could definitely be on the cards."

"My next outing will be with the Irish Relay team at the European Team Championships."

There are expectations that classy high hurdler Ben Reynolds can produce the sort of form to make the final in Glasgow.

The 23-year-old North Down man said he wasn't really "switched on" for his 13.83 seconds win at Upper Malone and he felt there was much more to come.

He is looking forward to a busy summer which includes the Europeans in Zurich as well as the Commonwealths.

QUB'S Katie Kirk choose to race over 400 metres rather than her specialist 800 event en route to her second Commonwealth Games. This time she had to settle for second in 55.88 seconds behind Ireland No 3 Sinead Denny of DSD, who won in 55.81 seconds.

Newry's Aislinn Crossey, who is attempting to qualify for next month's World Juniors over 800 metres, was third in 56.63 seconds. Katie observed that although the shorter distance was a bit of a shock to the system, she was pleased to race against good competition.

Ireland's top sprinter Amy Foster was the fastest heat qualifier in the 200 metres with a 24.32 seconds time.

She then decided to withdraw from the final because of the adverse weather conditions. Spectators therefore missed what would have been a fascinating contest between her and rapidly rising star Roseanna McGuickian of Lisburn AC.

The 16-year-old was fresh from last week's seventh place in the European Youth Olympics. At the tape McGuickian's raised arm signalled an emphatic victory over Ballymena's Joanna Mills in a PB of 24.38 seconds, which is a B qualification for the World Juniors in the US in July.

A delighted Roseanna said: "I wish I had run that time last week in the Youth Olympics. I really didn't expect a PB but I will now be trying to repeat this so I can be picked for the World Juniors event."

Sixteen-year-old Megan Marrs of Lisburn AC secured her second successive silver medal in the 100 metres event in a PB time of 11.95 seconds when she finished runner up to DCH'S Catherine M'Manus.

There was also a good performance by Birchfield's Hayley Murray, who won the hammer with 55.73 metres.

In the Men's event, Irish Universities champion Robert Moffitt took victory in a PB of 63.06 metres which would rank him sixth in the UK U-20 list.

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