Top class track & field action will grab the weekend headlines as Jason Smyth fronts a serious local challenge at the two days National Senior Championships in Dublin’s Santry Stadium.
Meanwhile, the City of Derry and Olympian youth squads will be chasing N. Ireland Young Athletes League glory at tomorrow’s (Saturday) final in Antrim.
The road runners will also be catered for with the Cranford 4.2 miler tonight (Friday) and tomorrow it’s the annual Strabane 10K.
Top sprinter Jason Smyth will be in Dublin to defend his National Senior 100m crown on Sunday and, of course, make his last attempt at the 10.18 secs. Olympic Qualifying Standard.
The Eglinton Flyer has been chasing this target since May and following an encouraging 10.24 secs. clocking in Florida he has, unfortunately, failed to find that vital spark to fire him to the Olympic standard.
His dip in form, not to mention a series of difficult race conditions, hasn’t deterred him, however, and both he and coach, Stephen Maguire, firmly believe that this weekend on the national stage he can deliver the goods.
Conditions may well be the decisive factor so, hopefully, the weather gods will be kind this Sunday.
Irish record holder, Paul Hession, is in the line-up alongside the emerging Steven Colvert who has posted a 10.35 secs. personal best recently. Both, like Jason, were at the recent European Championships in Helsinki but ran over 200m.
Hession made the final but ran poorly as did Colvert in the heats. Both may well go in the 200m tomrrow but Jason is unlikely to join them. If, however, all three line up on Sunday, a gripping final is on the cards.
Excellent PB for Connor
Connor Bradley, fresh from an excellent 800m personal best of 1 min. 51 secs. last week, goes in the 1,500 m with a podium position a real possibility.
The opposition will be difficult with the Letterkenny duo of Darren McBrearty and Daniel Mooney also in the field.
The City of Derry Spartan won the N. Ireland/Ulster title last month in Antrim and will need all his pace and tactical prowess to deliver a big result come the weekend. The heats take place tomorrow with the final set for around 4.00 p.m. on Sunday and, hopefully, the ‘red vest’ will be in the shake up for the medals.
Other locals in action include triple jumper, Mary Devlin, who will have defending champion Mary McLoone from Donegal among the opposition.
Gregory Roberts and Declan Reed take on the 10,000 m. Championship tomorrow afternoon, Reed buoyed by a good 3,000 m race last week and both Spartans will hope for a honestly paced race rather than a tactical stroll, prior to a late race burn up.
Youth Athletes Final
Antrim is the venue tomorrow for the City of Derry and Olympian contingents who have qualified for the N. Ireland Young Athletes League Final.
The young Spartans finished second behind City of Lisburn after the two qualifying rounds with Olympian just edging out Regent House for third spot.
The final is a six team affair with Lagan Valley and Omagh Harriers the other two qualifiers and each club must provide two athletes at Under-13, 15 and 17 level across a full range of running, jumping and throwing events.
The club with the most points gets to lift the Jimmy Murray trophy and the local Spartans have done that for the past five years. However, Lisburn have dominated the qualifying rounds with a combination of quality and quantity and will go in tomorrow as firm favourites.
The ‘red vests’ were working on strenghting their challenge across all three age groups and hope to pose a serious challange to the favourites.
Olympian A.C. will also target a podium finish and work hard to keep Regent House at bay.
Weekend Road Races
The Cranford 4.2 miler tonight has a 7.30 pm start and continues the ongoing Donegal Athletics Board Summer Road Race Series. The Cranford event is, in fact, race 18 in a massive 38 race series.
Tomorrow it’s the Strabane 10k which has a 12.00 noon start and the Riversdale Leisure Centre is as usual the event headquarters.
Tuesday next, July 10th, takes the action to St Johnston for another 5K and another 7.30 p.m. start.