It’s been a big few weeks for Banbridge Academy’s Patrick McNiff, who is the new Ulster champion and will run in the London Mini Marathon.
Patrick won the gold medal at last month’s Ulster Championships in Mallusk and, after learning of his call-up to represent Northern Ireland in London, he raced his way to fourth in the Irish Schools Cross Country Championships in Sligo last weekend.
Patrick stole the plaudits in Ulster that day when he ran a faultless race in the Inter-boys event to claim the gold medal and the title Ulster Schools Cross Country champion.
He led from the very start and powered ahead to claim the win by some 30 metres.
Meanwhile, Rebekah Nixon also performed wonderfully well at the Ulsters and claimed sixth place in the senior girls event.
That was enough to secure her spot in the Irish Championships, where she finish ed20th which is no mean feat considering the quality of her fellow runners.
Elsewhere at the Ulster Championships, the Academy had another four runners who had qualified through from the Districts. Nadia Radcliffe in Year Eight ran magnificently well in the first race of the day to finish in 16th spot and Marcus McNeil, also Year Eight, ran well to finish 18th in his Mini Boys race.
The Academy also had two runners in the Minor girls race with Ruby McNiff, younger sister of Patrick, running a fine race to finish 19th and Bethany Nixon, younger sister of Rebekah, also finishing strongly to finish 31st. Both should be congratulated on their efforts and grit in muddy conditions.
All in all, it was a very good cross country season for the Academy athletes. Plaudits must of course go to Patrick and Rebecca on their fine achievement on qualifying for the Irish Championships, with a special mention to Patrick on his hard earned and well deserved Ulster title, his second Ulster Cross Country title as a pupil at Banbridge Academy following on from his Mini boys title is 2012.