Gault on track for Commonwealth Games dream

City of Portsmouth runner Mandy Gault
City of Portsmouth runner Mandy Gault
Runners stream past HMS Victory in the Historic Dockyard

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Mandy Gault kick-started her bid for Commonwealth Games selection with a bronze medal at the Irish Senior Indoor Athletics Championships at the weekend.

The City of Portsmouth ace, who hopes to compete for Northern Ireland at Glasgow 2014, handed the selectors a timely reminder of her capabilities with a third-place finish in the 400m final in Athlone.

Gault recorded an impressive new personal best time of 56.46secs to clinch a podium finish.

That puts her second in the Northern Ireland rankings for the distance and at the forefront of the selection committee’s mind as they already turn their attentions to Glasgow.

Yet it’s in the 400m hurdles that the 29-year-old is hoping to catch the eye.

A foot injury in 2010 ended a successful long jump career that brought with it international honours.

But the transition to the hurdles has proved just as rewarding, with the University of Chichester lecturer winning silver at last year’s Northern Ireland Championships and earning an invite to last summer’s GB Olympic Trials in Birmingham.

That gave her another taste of what it’s like to compete with some of the finest athletes in the world.

And now Gault is keen to ensure she remains in with a shout of representing her country at the Commonwealth Games.

‘The aim is to compete in Glasgow in two years time, but I know it’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication,’ said Gault.

‘The NI 400m hurdles qualification time for the Commonwealths is set at 57.9. That means I’m currently outside the standard, with my hurdles PB standing at 61.9.

‘But that was set last summer, and after perhaps my best winter training for years and encouraging runs in the couple of indoor races I’ve had this year, there’s plenty to be positive about.’

She added: ‘Getting bronze at the Irish Indoors and a new PB was a major boost to what I want to achieve.

‘It was only my third ever indoor race over 400m and I only competed to get some races under my belt.

‘But I know I can run quicker and improve over the next year.’

– MARK McMAHON