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Northern Ireland's Leon Reid races into elite set of world-class sprinters

 

By Brian Hill

NI Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Leon Reid moved into world-class sprinting territory at the weekend’s British Championships in Birmingham when he broke his own NI 200 metres record twice en route to a bronze medal.

The 23-year-old Birchfield athlete has been enjoying his best season ever. He proved in the Belfast meeting a week ago that he was in top form with his second fastest ever 100 metres time.

In his heat yesterday, Reid set the stadium alight with a record shattering 20.27 seconds win which was the fastest qualifying time.

This sliced a huge 0.11 off his own NI record which he set at the same venue a year ago when also taking the bronze medal.

Leon knew he would face major challenges in the final in the form of Nathan Mitchell-Blake who was fourth at last year’s World Championships plus Rio Olympics fourth placer Adam Gemili. This proved to be the case with these two fighting it out for gold and a tiring Reid making desperate efforts to catch them.

At the line Mitchell-Blake took gold in a Championship record of 20.24 secs with Gemili getting silver on 20.26 secs. Reid took  bronze with 20.31 secs .

Reid said: “I am happy enough with that. I just didn’t have the sharpness at the end. Maybe my heat took it out of me. I now have two bronze medals here but I wanted gold. This might not now happen.”

This last comment was a reference to his desire to compete for Ireland in future. If he succeeds in this he would obviously no longer be eligible to compete in the British Champs .

City of Lisburn hurdler Megan Marrs also produced the race of her life  when she snatched a silver medal in a high quality women’s 100 metres hurdles .

All the pressure was on the 20-year-old Loughborough student after the heats where she was the fastest qualifier in 13.37 secs. However, defending champion Alicia Barrett of Chesterfield and Shafterbury’s Jessica Hunter were also well to the fore when winning their heats.

In the final, Megan was well out of her blocks and in fact held a narrow lead at the halfway mark.

European medallist Barrett and Hunter then edged marginally ahead. However, a battling Marrs fought to the line and just caught Hunter for silver in a photo finish. Barrett took gold in 13.28 secs with both Marrs and Hunter given the same time of 13.37 secs .

This is Megan’s second fastest time and close to Mary Peters’ Munich Olympics record of 13.29 secs.

Megan said: “I have to be pleased with that. I knew I was in the form to do well. I was happy with the first half of the race then faded a little a little. I know these girls so well and the outlook is good as we are all under 23. After my heat I took a bit of the pressure off by spending some time with my parents.”

There were some good performances by northern athletes in the All Ireland U20/U23 Championships in Tullamore.

Gold medallists in the U20 category included Commonwealth Games high jumper Sommer Lecky  (1.70 metres), Lisburn’s Ellen McCartney in the pole vault (3.80 metres), City of Derry’s Fintan Stewart in the 800 metres (1.54.01)  and Finn Valley’s James Kelly in the shot putt (16.83 metres).

In the U23 category, wins were recorded by  Ballymena’s Craig Newell in the 200 metres ( 21.67 secs  and Annadale’s Conall Kirk in the 800 metres (1.53.42).

Silver went to Ballymena’s Lydia Mills in the U23 long jump (5.55 metres) and Lisburn’s Anna McAuley in the Junior long jump (5.72 metres).

The big Coalisland 10k race was won Stephen Scullion who  will be competing over 10,000 metres in this summer’s European Championships.

The 29-year-old Belfast man  had a comfortable win in a course record time of 30 mins 12 secs. City of Derry’s Conor Bradley was second in 31.45 followed by Slieve Gullion’s Paddy Hamilton (32.07).

Commonwealth Games athlete Emma Mitchell (QUB) won the ladies’ event in 34.59 which gained her 10th place overall. She was followed by team-mate Sinead Sweeney (38.16 ) and Willowfield’s Amy Bulman (39.17).

Belfast Telegraph

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