Jason Smyth, Mark McGarvey, Claire Dougherty and Connor Bradley flew the flag brilliantly for local athletics in an action-packed track & field weekend in both Florida and Tullamore.
The Eglinton Flyer ran a 10.17s 100 metres on the Clermont, Florida track but was shattered to find that both a new PB and an “A” standard London Olympics qualifying time was ruled out by an over the limit following wind.
St Joseph’s and Lumen Christi students Mark McGarvey and Claire Dougherty were impressive gold medallists in their respective 110m Hurdles and Triple Jump events at the Irish Schools championships in Tullamore as a total of six highly coveted Irish Schools medals came Foyleside.
There was also a few Irish Milers Club races on the Tullamore programme and Connor Bradley confirmed his quality status with a classy 3m 47.60s Open 1,500m victory.
Starting with the Florida 100m and Smyth’s ongoing quest to run 10.18s or better to book his place on the Irish 100m squad for the upcoming London Olympics. He posted 10.24s two weeks ago on the same track and after a weather affected race in Orlando a week ago the Spartan was hoping the gods would smile on him back in Clermont last Saturday. He got the time all right as in a red hot race he streaked to 10.17s, after a 10.21s effort got him into the very classy final line-up.
Olympic relay silver medallist Keston Bledman of Trinidad won in a superb 9.85s but the tail wind of 3.2 metres per second was unfortunately over the legal 2mps limit and thus all the times were ruled out for record purposes.
In 6th place Smyth was delighted to run so fast but a PB, a new Irish senior record and a ticket to London sadly were blown away by the wind. The Eglinton man goes again this weekend in the Diamond League meeting in New York, knowing that he can run the time but hoping that everything falls into place to ensure its legality.
Meanwhile in Tullamore the Irish Schools championships once again proved profitable for the select group of local athletes who qualified through the District and Provincial championships to line-up against the best schools athletes in the country.
Six medals were won, gold and bronze from Mark McGarvey, gold from Claire Dougherty, silver from Anna Barr and another brace of bronze from Amy Jackson and Jenni O’Brien.
In addition, Aoife Laverty came within 0.11 of a second from the Junior girls 1,500m bronze medal while both Ruaidhri O’Neill and Ciara Armstrong also finished just out of the medals with 4th place efforts.
St Joseph’s McGeady is a seasoned performer and ran 15.11s to take the senior boys 110m Hurdles gold and produced a 6m 63cm Long Jump for an additional bronze to add to his already impressive tally of national honours. Claire Dougherty of Lumen Christi came good in the Intermediate Girls Triple Jump and her 10m 69cm leap was too good for the opposition and she pocketed the gold.
Thornhill’s Anna Barr who missed much of the winter with injury, also grabbed Triple Jump silverware, her 10m 99cm effort in the Senior Girls event good enough for silver. The remaining two bronze medals came from two of the most improved athletes locally, Amy Jackson of Lumen Christi in the Intermediate 1,500m and Jenni O’Brien of Immaculate Conception College in the Intermediate 300m Hurdles. Both posted PBs to achieve their medals, Amy clocking an excellent 4m 47.77s and Jenni looking good with a 46.22s in the demanding Hurdles events.
Let’s not forget the other locals who made the Tullamore finals. Aoife Laverty of Thornhill ran a PB of 2m 19.64s for a close up 4th in the Junior Girls 800m, losing out on a medal by only 0.11 seconds.
Hurdler Ruaidhri O’Neill of St Columb’s also ran a PB of 59.48s in the Intermediate Boys 400 Hurdles and again his 4th place finish just failed to get him on the podium.
St Cecelia’s Ciara Armstrong placed 4th in the Intermediate Girls 200m with 26.31s and 5th in the 100m with 12.65s; Thornhill’s Megan Devine in her first shot at this level was 5th in the Intermediate 200m with 26.41s; St Columb’s Shane McGowan ran 4m 11.25s for 6th in the Intermediate 1,500m; St Cecelia’s Emma McCay was in the Senior 400m Hurdles; Andrew Bolster of St Columb’s ran 59.88s for 7th in the Senior 400m Hurdles; Tamara Boyle of St Cecelia’s ran a PB of 42.89s for 7th in the Intermediate 300m; there were 7th and 9th place finishes for Inter Long Jumper Naomi Morgan and in the Junior 1,200m Walk for Lisa Bradley.
Connor Breslin broke five minutes in a separate U16 Mile clocking 4m 57s and in the Irish Milers Club 1,500m there was an impressive win for Connor Bradley ahead of yesterday’s NI/Ulster senior championships in Antrim. The talented Spartan clocked his second 4m 47s in as many weeks to see off a classy field and would have travelled to Antrim on Monday confident of medalling again in the Provincial championships.
Clubmate Pajo Hamilton ran 1m 53.30 in a tightly contested Open 800m, his 9th place finish less than a second away from 5th placer Letterkenny’s Danny Mooney with 1m 52.55s.
The Letterkenny pair of Mark English and Daren McBrearty battled out the pole positions with English winning in 1m 49.47s to McBrearty’s 1m 49.69s.