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Seaward earns Tokyo place with NI record



Kevin Seaward

Kevin Seaward

�INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Kevin Seaward

Kevin Seaward became the third Northern Ireland marathon runner to qualify for this summer's Tokyo Olympics with a superb run in yesterday's Seville Marathon, where he set a new NI record of two hours, 10 minutes and 10 seconds.

The St Malachy's man (34) joins Holywood's Paul Pollock and Belfast's Stephen Scullion, who have already qualified for Tokyo.

Seaward's time broke the NI record, which had been set recently by Pollock in Valencia, by some 15 seconds.

His achievement places him second in the all-time Irish list behind John Treacy.

Seaward, who was just outside the medals in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, said that he could not quite believe his time, which took a massive three and a half minutes off his previous best .

The Loughborough-based teacher  faced a world-class field in Seville and went through the halfway mark in 51st place in a conservative 65 minutes and 25 seconds.

The cautious approach paid dividends as he sped up in the second half to finish 25th ahead of Great Britain international Jonny Mellor.

His time was well within the Olympic qualifying mark of two hours, 11 minutes and 30 seconds in a race won by Ethiopia's Mekuant Gebre in an outstanding 2.04.46.

Clonliffe's Emma Mitchell and Springwell's Neil Johnston were clear winners in the weekend's Northern Ireland and Ulster Senior Cross Country Championships at an extremely windy though surprisingly firm University of Ulster, Coleraine.

NI 5,000m and 10,000m record holder Mitchell was making her first cross country appearance in over four years. Her performance did not reflect this, though, as she led a 200-strong women's field in the 6k event from the start.

In the absence of last year's winner Breege Connolly, the only thing up for decision was the margin of the 26-year-old's victory, which as it turned out was 49 seconds in a time of 24 minutes and nine seconds.

Next home was marathon specialist Catherine Whoriskey, who beat Lauren Wilson.

North Down took the team title for a fourth successive year, holding off Beechmount with City of Derry Spartans third.

Johnston took the men's 12k event in 44 minutes and 47 seconds, 19 seconds ahead of Annadale's Eskander Turki.

Newcastle won the team event, depriving runners-up City of Derry Spartans a fourth successive victory.

Belfast Telegraph