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Ulster Academy star Aaron Sexton at the double on a day for records


Class act: Aaron Sexton takes victory in Tullamore
Class act: Aaron Sexton takes victory in Tullamore
Marathon effort: Mayor Michaela Boyle presents the winner’s trophy to Eric Koech after yesterday’s O’Neill’s Derry Walled City Marathon. Left is Chris McGuinness (2nd) and Shane O’Donnell (3rd) with race director Scott Galbraith (right)

By Brian Hill

Ulster Rugby Academy-bound Aaron Sexton led a list of Northern Ireland athletes who were in record-breaking form at the weekend's Irish Schools Championships in Tullamore.

Bangor Grammar School student Sexton is reputed to be in his final athletics year before embarking on a full-time rugby career. He will certainly be missed in the athletics world following a scintillating double senior victory over 100 and 200 metres where he recorded championship best performances .

In the shorter event, he took full advantage of a favourable wind to destroy the field in a personal best of 10.43 seconds. Aaron's best performance, however, came in the 200 metres where his victory margin of over a second in an eye-catching 20.69 heads the current European U20 list .

This makes Sexton a major medal contender for July's European Championships in Sweden. He has experience at the top level as a semi-finalist in last year's World Juniors.

Commonwealth Games athlete Kate O'Connor was also in top form with a championship best in the javelin of 48.17 metres which is close to her new NI senior record of 49.31 metres. The St Vincent's, Dundalk girl also took the high jump with 1.65 metres.

Irish international Davicia Patterson also made light work of the opposition in the senior 400 metres. The Hunterhouse girl's championship best time of 53.35 seconds was her second fastest ever and over three seconds ahead of Sullivan's Rachel McCann.

Other Northern Ireland senior winners included Adam Hughes of Regent House in the 400 metres (48.91). Jai Benson of St Malachy's won the triple jump in a PB of 14.41 metres and was also second in the long jump (6.93 metres) while Methody's Erin Fisher took the pole vault with 3.30 metres.

RBAI's Neil Young won gold in the intermediate pole vault with a championship best of 3.85 metres which beats the previous record set back in 1991. In the same age group, victory in the 800 metres went to Wallace's Victoria Lightbody (2.09.8).

Limavady Grammar's Finn O'Neill took an unlikely championship best double in the minor boys 800 metres (2.05.32) and the 75 metres hurdles (11.19).

Meanwhile, last year's Belfast Marathon winner, Eric Koech of Kenya, made light work of the O'Neil's Derry Walled City Marathon when he crushed the opposition to take victory by some seven minutes in, what was for him, the relatively modest time of 2 hours 34 minutes 19 seconds.

Eric, who won this race in 2016, was never troubled and had a three-minute lead at the halfway mark.

Foyle Valley's Chris McGuinness was happy with his PB second place performance in 2.40.20. Rosses' Shane O' Donnell was third in 2.42.51.

The ladies race was won by Armagh's Natalie Hall in 3.3.35. Donore's Grace Kennedy took second in 3.04.32, followed by Ashling Murray of Carmen Runners who ran a PB of 3.04.51.

Belfast Telegraph


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