Another rewarding weekend for local athletes with Jason Smyth retaining his 100 metres title at the IPC World Championships in Doha and local clubs also producing a series of excellent performances at Saturday’s Bobby Rea Cross Country meeting in Jordanstown.
There were significant Juvenile and Senior efforts at the local meeting particularly Cara Laverty’s Girls U14 individual win and her City of Derry Spartans senior men’s squad lifting the Bobby Rea team trophy.
The ‘Eglinton Express’ was a comfortable short sprint winner in Doha with a tasty 10.63s 100 metres victory and looks good to go into 2016 as still the man to beat in Paralympian competition. He has of course run faster this summer but with a recent injury and surgery history, he will be pleased to have done the business in Doha and can now think about preparing for next year and the Olympics in Rio.
Meanwhile in Jordanstown on Saturday local runners impressed at the NI & Ulster Juvenile Cross Country Championships and the Bobby Rea races.
Cara Laverty was a superb winner of the Girls U14 championship race and led her Spartans squad of Aela Stewart, Grace Flynn Paige and Aishling Walsh to club silver behind Lagan Valley and ahead of City of Lisburn. A terrific performance in a very competitive age group and they now go on to the All Irelands in Dublin next month.
The ‘Red Vests’ Boys U10 squad also claimed team silver, led home by 8th placed Eunan Bonner with good support from Cillian O’Neill, Louis Cole, Caoimhan Hargan, Diarmuid Quinn, Eoghan Reynolds and Cameron Smith. A good showing for this young squad who were delighted with their Provincial medals in their first real taste of competitive action!
Oisin Colhoun was a close up 4th in the Boys U12 race for City of Derry and Lily Toorish of Derry City Track Club did well for 6th in the Girls U14 race. Fintan Stewart once again showed his class with an excellent third place in a classy Boys U18 race and will be Dublin bound next month while Mary Cait Byrne, Caoimhe Walsh and Eimer Stewart contributed to the Derry medals in the Inter County Girls U16 competition.
At the other end of the age spectrum Peter Lilburn once again chased home Springwell’s in-form Gerry O’Doherty in the Male Masters 60+ race as the top three M60 finishers from the previous weekend’s Masters Open Cross Country, O’Doherty, Lilburn and Jim Newberry of NBH, continued their ongoing battle for dominance.
SLEVIN LEADS SPARTANS TO TEAM SUCCESS
Gary Slevin made a surprise return to cross country on Saturday to lead a feisty Spartans mens squad to an unexpected win in the featured Bobby Rea senior race. Slevin has concentrated on the road for some time now but showed his ability with a gutsy run for 10th place and led clubmates Chris McPeake 13th and Noel Logan 17th, to team victory ahead of Newcastle AC and local rivals Foyle Valley who had Scott Rankin on the individual podium with a third place finish.
The Bobby Rea race has an unusual three to score format and with a four to score format in ANI Winter League races, the Spartans also took maximum League points from Saturday as Dermot McElhinney finished 20th to secure the League team win, ahead of Foyle Valley who reversed places with Newcastle. Adrian McGowan (19th), Martin Gallagher (33rd) and Roy McGilloway (35th), combined with Rankin to push the Valley in front and retain their lead in this early stage of the League campaign.
Other local runners at the sharp end were DCTC’s Connor Doherty (21st) and Kyle Doherty (22nd) in a back up role for the Spartans.
The Foyle Valley women kept up their challenge for League honours with top 20 places from leading duo Martina McMullan and Sarah Lindsay, backed up by Gemma McGinty and Deirdre Shields. They were third team in the Bobby Rea standings but jumped to second behind North Down in the League format.