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Local athletes ready for action in Australia.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

NORTHERN Ireland's Commonwealth Games competitors have touched down in Australia, with the championships due to take place in just over a week.

The bulk of the province's 13-strong track and field squad departed last week from Belfast to head to the Gold Coast for a two-week training camp before the showpiece begins on April 4. However, Castlederg high jumper Sommer Lecky has delayed her departure due to A-Level studies.

The Strabane Academy pupil will make her Commonwealth Games debut following a stellar 2017 which saw her win a gold medal at the Bahamas Commonwealth Youth Games in July.

Lecky broke the Irish Youth record on her way to claiming gold in the national indoor championships earlier as well as winning the Scottish Open and English Indoor U20 titles in a breakthrough season.

Lecky was named fourth on a ranking list of 15 athletes nominated for the games by Athletics Northern Ireland in October last year.

Other local athletes joining Sommer at the games are Beragh's Marc Potts and Bready's Marcus Christie, who make up part of the cycling team, Drumragh netball player Neamh Woods, and Clogher table tennis ace Ashley Robinson.

Raphoe badminton star Rachel Darragh will also compete for NI.

Cyclist Potts is a member of the Irish Track team, having placed fourth in the European Scratch Race championship in 2017. He is also a noted pursuiter, and current National Criterium Champion, whose skills will lend themselves to the technical nature of the Road Race course in Australia.

Bready native Christie is the current National Pursuit champion. A noted short-distance time triallist, he took bronze in the 2017 nationals and is a national record holder over 50 and 100 miles.

The 2016 Ulster Road Race champion is expected to compete in several disciplines at the games, focusing on the Time Trial, an event he competed in at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014, finishing 13th.

Woods was an integral part of the NI Netball team during their International summer quad series in June, and then defeated Scotland in a thrilling 46-45 contest to claim silver at the European Championship in October.

Table tennis ace Robinson represented Northern Ireland at the Games in Scotland in 2014, as well as competing at the World Championships in Suzhou in 2015. The 24 year old was crowned the National U21 champion in 2014 and 2015, and was also the National Doubles Champion 2015.

Rachel Darragh, a member of the famous Magee family in Raphoe and a niece of three time Olympian, Chloe, has been nominated by Ulster Badminton for the team.

With just over a week until the start of the Commonwealth Games, organisers are confident the event will be a near sell-out.

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