Ben Reynolds just misses world indoors mark in Belfast win

By John HaugheyBBC Sport NI at the Odyssey Arena
Ben Reynolds
Ben Reynolds has already qualified for represent Ireland in this year's European Championships

North Down hurdler Ben Reynolds came within .01secs of qualifying for next month's World Indoors as he starred at the Irish Championships in Belfast.

The 21-year-old thought he had booked his place in Istanbul after a time of 7.71 immediately flashed up at the Odyssey Arena but it was later rounded up to 7.75.

"I will make one last try for the time in Belgium next weekend," he said.

"But I was pleased with today. I'm getting faster with every race."

Indeed, Reynolds had already improved his Irish under-23 record by .03secs earlier in the day as he clocked 7.85.

But with Slovakian Vilian Papso and 1999 world outdoor championship semi-finalist Peter Coghlan again racing him in the final, Bath-based Reynolds moved his performance level up a further notch as he cut another tenth off his best.

Papso took second in 7.85 while 36-year-old Coghlan, "just back in the sport to keep myself in shape", clocked 7.95 after his earlier 8 seconds flat outing.

Reynolds has also qualified for this year's European Championships in Helsinki and such is his current rate of progression, he looks capable of challenging strongly for 110m hurdles Olympic qualification in London as well.

"My personal best from last year is 13.75 and the Olympic A standard is 13.52," Reynolds told BBC Sport.

"Things have been going great over the last few weeks after I had a bit of a worrying niggle around Christmas.

Amy Foster
Amy Foster on her way to victory in the women's 60m final

"If I can continue to execute my races well, who knows where it might take me?"

After last season, Reynolds opted to switch his international allegiance from Britain to Ireland he is already looking like a significant capture for Athletics Ireland.

Reynolds' victory wasn't the only noteworthy Ulster performance on a day which is likely to have brought the curtain down on indoor athletics at the Odyssey Arena with the Championships expected to move to the new permanent facility in Athlone next year.

Amy Foster improved her 60m personal best to 7.37 as she stormed to a comprehensive victory.

Foster's time was only .02 outside the world indoor standard but the City of Lisburn athlete will now cut her winter campaign short to focus on some "hard training" in preparation for the outdoor season.

Like Reynolds, the Ulsterwoman has already qualified for the European Championships and will also battle to achieve the Olympic A standard of 11.29 - even though it is .20 faster than her lifetime best.

Daniel Mooney led home a Letterkenny AC one-two and North West one-two-three as he kicked strongly with 250m left to finish almost two seconds ahead ahead of his club-mate Ruairi Finnegan and City of Derry's Conor Bradley, who was hampered by losing a spike on the first lap.

Mooney, who clocked 3:52.83, has lived in Donegal for 13 years but he is a Portrush native and one of his career goals is to represent Northern Ireland at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

"It's great to win my first national title," said Mooney, a postgraduate student at Liverpool's John Moores University.

"It was a typical indoor 1500m with a bit of pushing and elbowing so I was happy to get out in front on the second last lap and make my kick count."

Ballymena & Antrim's Christine McMahon won the women's 400m in 56.06 while Dean Adams produced a brave defence of his 60m title as he took second in 6.88 - .09 behind Celbridge athlete Seye Ogunlewe.

Jason Harvey, after his hurdle heroics last summer, was back on the 400m flat as he took second behind Eoin Mulhall with the Crusaders athlete taking victory in 48.40 - .22 ahead of the northerner who appeared to pay for a slightly sluggish opening lap.

Derval O'Rourke, in truth the only world-class athlete on show at the meeting, looked fluent as she clocked 8.21 in the 60m hurdles final but will hope to run much faster against stiffer competition at an international meeting in Lievin on Tuesday night.