NI super six make Euro marathon championships
Athletics NI officials were in high spirits yesterday when Athletics Ireland announced that an unprecedented total of six northern athletes would be on the 11 member team for the European Marathon Championships in Berlin in August.
The six are Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders), Stephen Scullion (Clonliffe), Kevin Seaward (St Malachy's), Laura Graham (Mourne Runners), Breege Connolly (City of Derry) and Gladys Ganiel (North Belfast).
There is particular satisfaction that the six also have the squad's fastest qualification times, which met the requirement of 2 hrs 17 mins for men and 2 hrs 38 mins for women.
Of particular current interest are the recent outstanding performances by Scullion and Seaward.
Scullion was the second British finisher behind Mo Farah in last weekend's London Marathon where he took two minutes off his previous best time.
Seaward had his best ever Championship marathon performance two weeks ago when he was only seconds away from a bronze medal in the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Kevin previously competed in the Europeans in 2014.
The NI women have been competing in marathons for several years and are proving that their times, if anything, improve with age. In the past year Graham (32), Connolly (40) and Ganiel (41) have all set or been close to their fastest ever times.
With Berlin in mind, current Belfast Marathon champion Graham is still considering whether to defend her title on Monday week. A year ago, Laura won in Belfast only a week after competing in the London Marathon.