Seven NI stars aim to sparkle at Euros
Seven Northern Ireland athletes will compete on a large Irish team in the First League of the European Team Athletics Championships in Sandes, Norway starting tomorrow.
Ireland has traditionally done well in this event, usually finishing in the top half of the 11 nation format. While host country Norway and Belarus are tipped to win overall, the Irish team is expected to more than hold its own in the track events.
First up in the programme is Commonwealth Games 200m bronze medallist Leon Reid, who races over 100m. Reid's stronger event is over the longer distance but his season's best time of 10.45s should still ensure that he commands a reasonably high position in the final.
Ulster University's Katie Kirk faces tough opposition in the 800m but is on a roll following a huge season's best time of two minutes four seconds in Belfast last week.
Triple European medallist Mark English from Letterkenny is a real gold medal prospect in the men's 800m, while Newcastle's Ryan Forsyth is ranked second fastest in the 5,000m with a time of 13 minutes 38 seconds, however, the 22-year-old will be pleased to get a high placing as a dip in recent form resulted in only third in the Irish Championships.
Recent Euro Junior Heptathlon silver medallist Kate O'Connor competes in the javelin, her strongest event, and she will be hoping to break her NI record of 52.92m.
19-year-old pole vaulter Ellen McCartney of Lisburn AC has also set Irish records at Under-23 level and will be aiming to improve again on her 4.01m personal best.
In the relays, Reid will compete in the 4x100m, while Bangor's Andrew Mellon is part of the 4x400m squad that is also in action.
Olympians Fionnuala McCormack (5,000m) and Thomas Barr (400m hurdles) should at least snatch podium places in their events.