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Belfast International Event Preview Come Fly With Me

There is no doubt that the high point of the Belfast International will be provided by the pole vaulters (excuse the pun).

It is a sad fact of life for those athletes involved in the vertical jumps that their competitions always end in failure , even if they win. This will be the case for both the men and women’s vaults on Saturday but not before they all do handstands on top of a fibreglass pole perched at a height in excess of a Translink double decker.

First up (sorry more puns) will be the men, featuring three of the best ever Irish vaulters and a young man who is the future of local vaulting. Jamie Paul won the Ulster Schools title in 2019 with a height of 2.20. In Abbotstown in February at the National Indoor league he soared to a height of 4 metres almost double that of his performance three years earlier. He will encounter tougher opposition on Saturday as he comes up against the Irish U18, U20 and U23 record holders and a former Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games star.

Matthew Callinan Keenan (St Laurence O’Toole) is the holder of two Irish National titles and this year set an Irish Under 23 record with a new lifetime best of 4.80m. Conor Callinan (Leevale) just 17 years old, is only 5cms below that with Irish Under 18 and Under 20 records of 4.75 so the battle between the two similarly named Irish athletes should be interesting. Adding experience to the youthful competitors will be Liverpool Harriers and former North Down veteran Peter Glass. Peter, who will acquire Masters status next year, is still a force to be reckoned with. Last season he won the Northern Ireland title going within 5 cms of his best ever with a height of 4.75m and only former Commonwealth Champion Mike Bull has vaulted higher in the Northern Ireland All Time performances. The vault is just one of the 10 events of the Decathlon, the event which Peter did in the Commonwealth games in Glasgow.

Ellie McCartney (Essex Ladies and City of Lisburn) began her vaulting career as a 14 year old representing City of Lisburn in the Young Athletes League final in Birmingham clearing 1.90m. Like Jamie Paul she has made impressive progress under the guidance of Jim Alexander and enters Saturday’s event with a leading height of 4.24m set in France this year. This height saw her achieve the Birmingham 2022 consideration standard and, with the team selection just over a week away, she will be keen to impress the nomination panel who will all be present.

Providing the competition are three Scottish, Welsh and English women all with strong credentials. Courtney Maguire (Edinburgh AC) is a Scottish International with victories in the Welsh Championships and the Manchester International to boast about. Carys Jones (Swansea Harriers) provides the Welsh challenge. The former Welsh Schools Champion set a new personal best of 3.90 metres in the UK Championships. Completing the line up is Felicia Miloro (Sutton in Ashfield AC). The 21 year old is the English U23 Champion and 2019 Inter Counties Champion with a best of 4.05 metres.

Written by John Glover

The Belfast International 2022 meet will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Lady Mary Peters Olympic Gold Medal.

The event will be Live Streamed on the Athletics NI Youtube Channel:

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