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Kate O’Connor fights back with sensational evening display to secure silver medal in Commonwealth Games heptathlon

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Northern Ireland's Kate O'Connor celebrates winning silver in the Women's Heptathlon at the Commonwealth Games

Northern Ireland's Kate O'Connor celebrates winning silver in the Women's Heptathlon at the Commonwealth Games

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Northern Ireland's Kate O'Connor celebrates winning silver in the Women's Heptathlon at the Commonwealth Games

Kate O’Connor produced a sensational evening performance to claim a silver medal in the Women’s Heptathlon at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

The 21-year-old from Newry had started the day in second after personal bests in the opening 100m hurdles and 200m on day one, but slipped outside the podium places following a disappointing long jump performance in the morning.

However, she dominated the javelin throw – her strongest event – which moved her back into second place in the overall standings, and a fourth-placed finish in the final event, the 800 metres, was enough to get the job done.

Defending champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson proved too good, however, as she won her second Commonwealth heptathlon gold, her first title since she won at the World Championships in 2019.

It was an emotional moment for the 29-year-old, who had to battle back from a career-threatening Achilles injury that saw her miss the Tokyo Olympics just to compete, and she was fully deserving of her success.

But that should not detract from O’Connor’s performance as she was excellent value for her silver medal, the best performance of her young career, improving on her eighth-placed finish in 2018.

After a great display on day one, which saw her second behind just Johnson-Thompson, the Co Down star had gotten off to a shaky start as she finished fifth in the long jump with a distance of 5.82m, earning her 795 points in the overall standings, but that saw her slip down the rankings.

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A superb performance from England’s Jade O’Dowda saw her win the long jump with a distance of 6.52m which meant she leapfrogged above O’Connor into second place overall, with Australia’s Taneille Crase adding a personal best 6.23m to finish third and also move above O’Connor into third overall.

But the javelin was always going to be O’Connor’s strongest event given she is the Irish record holder and she was head and shoulders above her rivals with a throw of 51.14m which was 6.81m further than Johnson-Thompson in second.

That earned her 882 points and took her back into second above O’Dowda and Crase, who finished third and fifth in the event respectively, and it meant that all she needed to do in the 800m was keep third-placed O’Dowda within touching distance to secure silver.

And she did it in style, leading the Englishwoman for the majority of the race before O’Dowda overtook her down the stretch, but the pair were close enough together that it meant O’Connor was able to hold on to finish second overall.

Johnson-Thompson finished with 6377 points to take the gold, with O’Connor claiming silver and O’Dowda holding on for bronze.


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