NI and Ulster U14-U20 Age Group Championships
The Mary Peters track successfully hosted one of the largest athletics events in recent times over the weekend, with glorious sunshine and barely a breath of air providing ideal conditions for athletes and spectators alike.
Victoria Ifonlaja got North Down representation off to a flying start with 13.43 (4th) in the U14 75m hurdles, while Anna Moran (32.18) was sixth in her heat of the 200m. Zara Steele (29.35) qualified for the 200m final with third place in the heats, and followed that up with seventh in the medal race (29.97)
Conor Adair (25.90/6th) was unfortunate to narrowly miss out on qualification for the U16’s 200m final, whilst Anna Moran (12.55/3rd) and Victoria Ifonlaja (11.51/5th) both returned to the track with strong performances in the 80m sprint heats.
Ryan Hamilton provided one of the highlights of the day, qualifying fastest from the U14 80m heats in 10.45, before finding something a little extra in the final (10.35) to take the gold by the narrowest of margins. Harrison McGrogan also put together a consistent afternoon of effort, qualifying in 11.25 before showing up well in the final with 11.31.
Stephanie Bell (14.01) and Lily Patterson (15.35) took on the U16 100m, the former qualifying for the final, in which she clocked 14.17 (7th), while Conor Adair completed a sprint double, qualifying for the 100m medal race in a time of 12.75, before posting 12.94 (8th) in the final.
Lauren Cheatley (2:33.91) was seventh overall in a strong U14 800m category, before the gold rush recommenced, Mac Eager (11:27.44) more than holding her own amongst the combined U16/U18 3000m and proving to be the best of the younger age grouping, while Seb Holley (2:12.97) finished like a runaway train to take the U14 800m title, in a race which also featured Isaac Dunne (2:39.09).
Nicole Simpson ran 2:52.64 in the U15 800m, Lucy Cheatley clocked 2:35.52 amongst the U16s, while Ryan Lynas (2:12.90) was sixth over the same distance for the U17s, before Mark Carberry rounded out day one for the track contingent, with 2:04.14 good enough to comfortably hold off the rest of his U20s competition.
There was also great success amongst the field athletes, Lucy Stevenson (20.10m) taking silver in the U18 hammer, before going on to claim bronze in the discus, with a best throw of 14.88m. Daniel Rayner (18.99m) and George Patterson (16.83m) took silver and bronze respectively in U14 discus, Rayner (25.53m) then proceeded to take bronze in a javelin event which also featured Isaac Hammond (22.69m/4th) and Patterson (15.13m/6th). Hannah Lawden (26.74m) took the U16 javelin title with a dominant display, and a best effort that was almost ten metres further than her nearest rival, while it was a good deal closer for Seb Holley (best throw of 10.02m) in the U14 shot, but again the colour was gold, in an event which also featured Hammond (7.28m/4th) and Rayner (6.74m/5th)
Stephanie Bell took silver in the U16 shot, with a best effort of 9.41m, George Patterson (3.73m) and Isaac Hammond (3.53m) finished fourth and fifth respectively in the long jump amongst the U14 boys, whilst for the girls Zara Steele (3.98m), Victoria Ifonlaja (3.91m) and Anna Moran (3.62m) all performed admirably. Lily Patterson completed a busy day with a best effort of 3.64 in the U16 long jump and 1.25m in the high jump, claiming a silver medal in the latter, while Morgan Wilson brought a long day of athletics to a close with a best clearance of 1.60m to take the U17 pole vault title.
Day two began as the previous day had finished, with beautifully sunny conditions and excellent performances from the yellow and blue vests. Niamh Fulton followed up a clocking of 29.02 in the 200m heats, with 30.77 in the final, while Daniel Constable (26.11) was second in his heat, before just missing out on a bronze medal in the final (26.86/4th). Rory Fulton claimed the first silverware of the day with a second place finish in the U17 200m, while Niamh Fulton ran 13.72 in the 100m to qualify for a final in which she posted 14.21. Daniel Constable also doubled up, 13.03 in the U15 100m followed by 13.14 in the final. Rory Fulton (11.92) qualified third fastest for the 100m, but was just run out of the medals after posting 12.05 (4th) in the final, Morgan Wilson clocked 14.76 amongst the U17 girls, while Rose McGreevy took home silver after stopping the clock on 13.46 in the U19 final.
Lauren Cheatley (5:19.34) placed sixth in the U14 1500m, Isaac Dunne (5:17.27) was eighth in the boys race, Becka Laffin (5:01.30) a commendable fourth in the U15s, while Lucy Cheatley and (5:11.09) and Mac Eager (5:12.23) were fifth and sixth respectively amongst the U16s.
Callum Spain (33.01m) took silver in the U17 discus, Morgan Wilson claimed the same position in the girls javelin with a best throw of 28.33m, while Charlie Lawden took the first gold of the day, in the boys event, with a fine effort of 45.25m. Wilson was back in action with a best effort of 4.28m in the long jump, Rose McGreevy returned to claim bronze in the U19 high jump with a best clearance of 1.45m, while Niamh Fenlon (10.87m) and Beth Hammond (10.62m) brought the curtain down on another highly successful day, with silver and bronze respectively in the U17 shot.
The Grey Abbey Endurance Challenge
The hottest day in the history of Northern Ireland would probably not have been the first choice of conditions amongst the average endurance athlete, but with six or twelve hours to complete as many 5.5km mixed terrain loops as possible, this was never a challenge for the faint hearted.
On a day when many considered a 5k parkrun to be a tough effort, Louise Watson and Noel Eager managed more than six in a row around the Grey Abbey trails, before calling it a day on 33.90km. On her return from injury, Paula Simpson clocked up one lap more, as did Matt Ormesher, both registering a total of 39.55km, while Alan Massey racked up an impressive 50.85km, for an excellent result of second overall.
While many were finding shade from the afternoon sun, Jill Connolly pushed on for another six hours, piling on lap after lap in an impressive display of mental and physical fortitude, before finishing on 84.75km and a fantastic fifth place overall.
Congratulations to Matty McParland on his first place finish at the Yorkshire Challenge over the weekend. Despite having to contend with soaring temperatures (and almost 2000m of climbing) the North Down man made steady progress through the Nidderdale area of outstanding natural beauty, on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, and eventually stopped the clock after slightly over thirteen and a half hours of outstanding effort.