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Sexton thrilled to clinch NI title

 

By Brian Hill

There is a new kid in the sprinting blocks as Aaron Sexton announced his prodigious ability in style at the Northern Ireland and Ulster Senior Championships at the weekend.

The 17-year-old double Irish Schools' champion edged out multi-World and Paralympic champion Jason Smyth by a hair's breadth in a classic 100m clash at the Mary Peters track.

It appeared that 30-year-old Smyth would take yet another title after he blasted out of his blocks ahead of the North Down teenager and held a clear lead.

However, Sexton caught the Eglinton man in the closing stages and just took gold on the line where both were given the same time of 10.69 seconds.

The modest Sexton, whose father Roger took the same title in 1992, said: "That was good given the strong wind. I am working on my start which has not been the best, partly because of my height.

"Sometimes it's tough as I am currently in the spotlight, but I rely a lot on my dad, who coaches me. Hopefully I will be selected for the Irish team for the World Juniors next month."

The Women's event was won by Lisburn's Lauren Roy in 12.04 seconds against a strong 3.2m wind.

In the 800m, 22-year-old Conall Kirk destroyed the opposition in one minute 50 seconds, 30 years after dad Mark's last title.

In the Women's event, Lisburn's Kelly Neely, who turns 40 this week, took her sixth title in two minutes 13.15 seconds.

Long jumper Adam McMullen is right back in form, the Crusaders man winning with ease in a season's best jump of 7.79m.

The Men's 400m had the usual quality line-up, where Birchfield's Theo Campbell held on for victory in 47.03 ahead of 2017 winner Craig Newell and QUB's Andrew Mellon.

Beechmount's Davicia Patterson, who will be racing in the World Juniors in Finland over 400m, stepped down to the 200m and won in 24.75 seconds.

QUB's Emma Mitchell, who broke the NI 10,000m record at the Commonwealth Games in Australia, produced an impressive run to take the 1,500m, while fellow Games ace Ben Reynolds took his sixth hurdles title.

In the Women's hammer, Rugby's ever consistent Hayley Murray - who set an NI record at Malone a year ago - won again with 57.96m.

Windsor's Jack Magee won the javelin with 66.42m, while Lifford's Gareth Crawford came second with a PB of 64.37m.

Lisburn's Ellen McCartney won the pole vault with 3.70m.

There were closely fought contests in both 5,000m races where City of Derry's Conor Bradley just edged out Glaslough's Conor Duffy, and North Down's Jessica Craig got the better of Belfast Marathon winner Laura Graham.

Meanwhile, in Oregon, Belfast's Stephen Scullion ran a European 'A' standard time over 10,000m with 28 minutes 36 seconds - the second fastest ever by a Northern Ireland athlete.

Belfast Telegraph

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