13 April 2018

Northern Ireland athletes continued to impress on the day six of the athletics at the Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast. After Leon Reid’s surprise bronze medal on Thursday, there were top eight finishes yesterday for Kate O’Connor and Adam Kirk-Smith in the heptathlon and 3000m steeplechase respectively.

Seventeen-year-old O’Connor completed a superb two days competition by sneaking into eighth place overall in the final event, the 800m. The Dundalk schoolgirl had been ninth overnight and enjoyed a fruitful second day producing a best of 5.64m in the long jump, the second-longest throw of the entire javelin competition of 46.34m and then finished up by running the 800m in 2:18.30.

That left the Ballymena-born athlete – the youngest member of NI athletics team –just shy of her personal best in scoring 5695 points, 560 behind England’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson who took gold with 6255. O’Connor admitted her first taste of athletics big time has left her hungry for more.

“I am delighted with that,” O’Connor said. “I was happy with my 800 metres and to come eighth in my first major championships is great. I’ve learnt how to use the crowd. I definitely came in nervous but I eased into the competition and I need to learn how to use the crowd rather than be scared by it.”

Kirk-Smith adopted a conservative approach in the 3000m steeplechase that brought its own reward in the end. The Lisburn man was at the back of the field on the opening lap as three Kenyans, led by Olympic and world champion Consesius Kipruto, set off at lightning pace. While the race for medals quickly narrowed down to the Kenyans, a Ugandan and a Canadian, Kirk-Smith was working his way through the field.

Kipruto took command on the last lap before going on to win in a Games record of 8:10.08. Second place went to compatriot Abraham Kibiwott with Amos Kirui pipping the game but unfortunate Matthew Hughes of Canada right on the line for the bronze medal to make it a Kenyan 1-2-3. The DTC athlete finished strongly for eighth in 8:48.40, 11 seconds outside his best, but auguring well for his prospects at this summer’s Europeans in Berlin.

“I went out with a plan,” said the 27-year-old who is based in London. “I wasn’t in the best shape but I was realistic about what I could achieve and that’s been down to everyone who supported me and made me believe I deserved a place up there. The atmosphere was great too. I’ve never run in front of a crowd like this and you can’t stop and take it in. But I’m humbled by the volunteers here, people giving of their time. It’s been great.”


24 March 2018

Cathal McLaughlin overcame a debilitating chest infection to take two bronze  medals at the European Masters’ Indoor Championships in Madrid.

The Irish team that took bronze medals L-R: Patrick Malone, Robert Maher and Cathal McLaughlin

The Derry Track Club athlete had been laid low all week but dragged himself to the startline of the M50 1500m in the Gallur Stadium.  He started modestly and was just off the bunch during the opening two circuits.

Cathal was quick to cover the break when Britain’s Dave Cowlishaw and Adrian Haines hit the front at the halfway mark . While Madrid-resident Cowlishaw drew away for an impressive victory in 4:21.46, Cathal was involved in a tense battle with Haines for the runner-up spot, eventually losing out by less than half a second in 4:23.56 seconds – a new Irish Masters’ record.

“This was not Cathal at his best or any way near it but through sheer determination he got the job done, ” said DTC coach Malcolm McCausland. “We can now look forward to preparing for the World outdoors in Málaga this September.”

Cathal turned out for the cross country the following day in a very cold Parque de Cuna Verde.  He was rewarded with a team bronze for Ireland behind Spain and Portugal.

1 2228  David 1967 M50  GBR GREAT BRITAIN & N. IRELAND 4:21.46 itain
2 2301 HAINES Adrian 1967 M50  GBR GREAT BRITAIN & N. IRELAND 4:23.17
3 2977 MCLAUGHLIN Cathal 1967 M50  IRL IRELAND 4:23.56

Earlier Cathal had taken the Irish titles at both 800m and 1500m in Athlone.  Robert Bigger emulated his team mate with a double gold strike over the same distances in the M60 age group.

Unfortunately Richie Kelly was unable to defend his M75 200m and 400m titles due to the untimely death of his nephew Karol.  Condolences are extended to Richie and all the Kelly family.