Belfast Irish Milers Club set to attract another international entry

The women's 800m was the race of the day at last year's meeting
Scotland's Katy Brown pipped Ireland's Laura Crowe and England's Alex Bell in last year's women's 800m in Belfast

The Mary Peters Track will again welcome international athletes when the Belfast Irish Milers Club Meet takes place on 24 June.

Dame Mary Peters was among the guests as this year's meeting was launched on Monday morning in the Lord Mayor's Parlour at Belfast's City Hall.

Lord Mayor Brian Kingston, himself a keen runner, hosted Monday's reception.

The Beechmount Harriers meet will offer the local competitors the chance to chase Commonwealth Games standards.

Meet director Eamonn Christie says pacemakers will be organised to ensure fast racing, which he says, should also guarantee a strong entry of athletes from throughout Ireland, as well and British and overseas competitors, in the third staging of the Belfast meeting.

"We're going to have men's and women's races over 800m, 1500m and 3,000m," Christie told BBC Sport Northern Ireland.

"The plan is also to put on a women's 5000m which will hopefully see Emma Mitchell trying to get the Commonwealth standard of 15 minutes and 39 seconds.

"We will be bringing over a couple of pacemakers for that race and hopefully get Emma under the Commonwealth mark. She dipped her toe over 5000m in a British Milers Club race last year when she ran just under 17:15 but given her good form this year, we think she can go a lot faster."

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NI athlete Christine McMahon has world events in her sights

Mageean happy with Mary Peters Track return

Ciara Mageean, David Gillick and English 800m talent Alex Bell have been among the athletes to have competed at the Belfast meeting since it started in 2015.

After finishing third behind Scotland's Katy Brown and Ireland's Laura Crowe in the 800m event in Belfast last May, Bell went on to claim a surprise win over Mageean at the Morton Games in Dublin in July.

World Masters champion Kelly Neely is also likely to be in the 800m field while Christie also expects international athletes from Poland and France to make the trip to Belfast.

"It's going to be another big international meeting and while the likes of Ciara Mageean and Christine McMahon may be on European Team Championship duty with Ireland that weekend, we are still confident we will be able to assemble strong fields in all the events."

In a nice nod to the past, Christie is also planning to get some of Northern Ireland's sub-four minute milers to present prizes at the meeting.

There could include Jim McGuinness (3:55.00, 1977), Mark Kirk (3:59.67) and Seamus McCann (3:59.84) who achieved the feat during something of a golden age for Northern Ireland middle distance running in the 1970s and 80s.

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