Games hero Leon keeps up fight for GB-Ire­land switch

Belfast Telegraph - - SPORT - BY BRIAN HILL

NORTH­ERN Ire­land’s Com­mon­wealth Games bronze medal­list Leon Reid still has his sights set on switch­ing from Great Bri­tain and com­pet­ing for Ire­land in this sum­mer’s Eu­ro­pean Cham­pi­onships in Ber­lin.

The 23-year-old 200m medal­list from the re­cent Gold Coast Games was speak­ing at the launch of the fifth Belfast In­ter­na­tional ath­let­ics meet­ing, which will be held at the Mary Peters track on Tues­day, June 26.

Reid’s com­ments come de­spite the IAAF’s cur­rent em­bargo on any ath­lete wish­ing to trans­fer to com­pete for another coun­try.

The lat­est po­si­tion is that the IAAF will con­sider the mat­ter again at their next meet­ing in Buenos Aires in July, a mere three weeks be­fore the Euro­peans.

A num­ber of pro­pos­als will be con­sid­ered at that meet­ing, one of which is that ath­letes should have to wait a min­i­mum of three years be­fore trans­fer­ring to another coun­try. Another is that coun­tries should of­fer full ci­ti­zen­ship to any ath­lete wish­ing to com­pete for them.

There is cur­rent un­cer­tainty as to whether Reid falls un­der these pro­posed stip­u­la­tions as his re­quest to com­pete for Ire­land was made be­fore the orig­i­nal em­bargo was set by IAAF pres­i­dent Se­bas­tian Coe back in Fe­bru­ary 2017.

At the time, Coe ob­served that the then more re­laxed rules were be­ing ma­nip­u­lated to en­able an in­creas­ing num­ber of ath­letes to com­pete for coun­tries which they had lit­tle, if any, con­nec­tion with. Three par­tic­u­lar ‘of­fend­ing coun­tries’ were named as Turkey, Qatar and Bahrain.

A deter­mined Reid said: “I am still wait­ing for a de­ci­sion which will be in July. This gives me a three-week turn­around for the Euro­peans. I have re­ally close con­nec­tions with Ire­land. I have had an Ir­ish pass­port for a cou­ple of years and most of my fam­ily are from here.

“As far as I am con­cerned, my ap­pli­ca­tion was in on time be­fore the em­bargo. While this is all un­set­tling, I will be ready if and when the call comes.”

Asked if he had ad­justed to his new sta­tus as a Com­mon­wealth medal­list, he said: “It’s just back to work now. I am fully fit and will be start­ing my sea­son with the Manch­ester Street Games on Fri­day. I will also be com­pet­ing in the Eu­ro­pean Club Cham­pi­onships for Birch­field plus the big Cham­pi­onships in Ire­land.”

Reid is a for­mer Eu­ro­pean Ju­nior and U23 sil­ver medal­list while com­pet­ing for GB. He would be a ma­jor as­set for the Ir­ish team, es­pe­cially af­ter his mem­o­rable third place in Australia in a race where Eng­land’s Zhar­nel Hughes was dis­qual­i­fied af­ter a lane in­fringe­ment, mov­ing Reid up to bronze po­si­tion.

Reid’s time of 20.55 sec­onds was his sec­ond fastest ever, beaten only by his 20.38 run last year in the Bri­tish Cham­pi­onships.

While Reid will be the star at­trac­tion in the com­ing Belfast In­ter­na­tional meet­ing, Ath­let­ics NI coach Tom Reynolds said that many oth­ers from the Gold Cost Games would also be com­pet­ing.

He pointed out that the NI team had en­joyed one of their most suc­cess­ful Games ever, with the fact that five ath­letes achieved top-eight fin­ishes.

He re­vealed Bri­tish Cham­pi­onship hur­dles medal­lists Meghan Marrs and Mol­lie Courtney would be com­pet­ing, plus Com­mon­wealth Youth cham­pi­ons Aaron Sex­ton (200m) and Som­mer Lecky (high jump), who was 10th in the Gold Coast Games.

Oth­ers in­clude Ben Reynolds (hur­dles), Amy Fos­ter (100m), Jack Agnew (800m wheelchair) and Eu­ro­pean bronze medal­list Ciara Mageean (800m). Glit­ter­ing prize: Leon Reid shows his Com­mon­wealth Games bronze to Olympic gold medal­list Dame Mary Peters

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