Kerry O'Flaherty achieves Commonwealth Games consideration standard in Belgium

Kerry O'Flaherty (right) on the podium after finishing third in the 3,000m steeplechase at the Rasschaert Memorial meeting in Belgium
Kerry O'Flaherty (right) achieved the Commonwealth Games steeplechase standard in Belgium

County Down runner Kerry O'Flaherty has become the 13th Northern Ireland athlete to achieve a Commonwealth Games consideration standard

Running in the Flanders Cup in Belgium, O'Flaherty finished third in the 3,000m steeplechase in 9:50.75 which was 3.25 seconds inside the Games standard.

After being bothered by a calf injury earlier this summer, O'Flaherty has returned to form in recent weeks.

Rio Olympian O'Flaherty turned 36 on Saturday and she celebrated in style.

Algeria's Rima Chanah took victory in Ninove in 9:44.42 ahead of Australia's Victoria Mitchell (9:48.47) and O'Flaherty.

The Northern Irishwoman was only 0.40 seconds outside the Commonwealth Games standard in Gothenburg on Tuesday as she continued to edge closer to the Gold Coast time.

O'Flaherty, who set her personal best of 9:42.61 in 2015, was out of racing for over a month after tearing a calf muscle at a British Milers Club meeting in May.

After struggling in a number of races on the continent following her injury, the Newcastle athlete ran under 10 minutes in both Hungary and Letterkenny earlier this month before just missing the Commonwealth standard in Sweden.

Thirteen Northern Ireland athletes have already achieved Commonwealth Games consideration standards although it is far from certain all those with the Gold Coast marks will be selected for the trip to Australia next Spring.

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