After a hugely successful Commonwealth Games where Northern Ireland won our first track and field medal for 28 years and had a further four athletes in the top eight, the team have today (Monday 16th April 2018) departed the Gold Coast and are heading for Dublin, due to arrive tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday 17th April 2018).
After a focussed two week holding camp where the team were able to put the final touches to their preparation, Dempsey McGuigan brought the first top eight finish since 2002, when he claimed 6th in the Hammer Final. His performance set the scene for what was to come with Emma Mitchell setting a new Northern Ireland record in the 10,000m and further top eight places coming from Adam Kirk-Smith (8th in the 3000m steeplechase), Kate O’Connor (8th in the Heptathlon) and Kevin Seaward (4th in the Marathon). The highlight of the week came when Leon Reid won the bronze medal in the 200m and when he became only the second ever Northern Ireland athlete to win a medal on the track.
Athletics Northern Ireland’s director of coaching Jackie Newton believes there is a bright future for the sport with the foundations being laid at grassroots level as well as supporting elite athletes.
She said: “Our vision was to get our athletes here in their best shape to express themselves physically on the track and field and that nothing would deter them from their preparations.
“The athletes and their coaches fully committed themselves to the task in hand and never lost sight of their performance goals. Every one has shown strength of character – performing with confidence and battling for positions.
“Some are a little disappointed with their own result but when we look at the manner in which they competed and truly went for it we can have no regrets. Now, with Leon’s bronze medal, another four top eights and every athlete outperforming their ranking from the time of selection, we look forward to the next four years when we aim to convert all top 10 positions to medals.
“This is a young team and we look forward to supporting them towards this future goal.”