'NI future bright despite medal misses' says coach Reynolds

Kate O'Connor
Dundalk's Kate O'Connor represented Northern Ireland at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia

Coach Tom Reynolds has predicted a bright future for Northern Ireland athletics on the back of a string of encouraging performances.

Kate O'Connor won heptathlon silver for Ireland at the European Under-20 Championships in Sweden while others narrowly missed out on medals.

Sprinter Aaron Sexton and 400m runner Davicia Patterson finished fourth.

"Northern Ireland have never had so many top 10-ranked juniors," said Athletics NI official Reynolds.

"In fact, six of our athletes achieved top eight positions in their events in Boras.

"We experienced heartache and heroics, with the tiniest of margins separating the finalists and medallists.

"Northern Ireland's upcoming junior athletes can now look ahead to next year's World Under-20 Championships in Nairobi and the 2021 Commonwealth Youth Games in Trinidad and Tobago."

After impressing at recent events, both O'Connor and Patterson have received full athletics scholarships in the United States.

Kendra Harrison
Dundalk's Kate O'Connor will train under Edrick Floreal, who coached 100m hurdle world record holder Kendra Harrison

Dundalk's O'Connor will link-up with University of Texas head coach Edrick Floreal, who trained 100m world record holder Kendra Harrison.

Patterson will train with a specialist 400m coach at Iowa State.

O'Connor's heptathlon silver medal was the first by an Irish woman, at any level, in the seven-event discipline.

Meanwhile, for 18-year-old 200m runner Sexton, fourth place was an agonising finish as he leaves athletics to pursue a full-time rugby career with Ulster.

Aaron Sexton
Aaron Sexton is the fastest schoolboy in Irish athletics

"The result was not what I wanted, but I left everything out there," said the North Down athlete after missing out on a medal despite finishing with the same 21.18 time as bronze winner Matttia Donola from Italy.

Sommer Lecky also came very close to a medal in the high jump final, finishing in joint fifth with 1.84 metres.

The Irish under-20 4x400m women - Simone Lalor, Miriam Daly, Davicia Patterson and Rachel McCann - finished fifth in 3:41.28.

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