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introducing: McKie, Flannery, Weightman & Ahmed

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Laura Weightman
Weightman a Hero for second year running

5 June 2009

Four of Britain’s most promising athletes have set their sights on European glory this summer after being invited by UK Athletics to join their Original Source-funded Heroes scheme.

High jumper Alan McKie, middle-distance runner Laura Weightman, hurdler Niall Flannery and 3,000m runner Abdirisak Ahmed will all receive two £500 bursaries towards kit, travel expenses, medical support and equipment during the summer.

And the quartet will all be looking to repay part of that investment by making their mark on the international stage.

Newcastle’s Flannery already came close to tasting success after an agonising fourth-place finish at European Youth Olympic Festival two years ago but insists that painful experience will drive him to further glory at the European Junior Championship.

He said: “Hopefully I will get to the final and then see where things take me from there. Doing the European Youth Olympics was a great experience and I know what to expect from big competitions now.

“I was fourth and I want to try to better it. If I get a medal then I would be chuffed but I will keep my feet on the ground and get my head into the right way of racing.”


Hoping to join Flannery in Serbia are Weightman and Ahmed but both will face an anxious wait to secure qualification.

Morpeth Harrier Weightman, 17, only missed the qualifying time by seven tenths of a second in Manchester at the weekend but is confident she can book her place.

“I was gutted to miss out on the time by such a small amount because I really wanted to get it now and take the pressure off,” said Weightman.

“But despite that I feel like I am running well and that I should be able to get the time in the next weeks or months.

Ahmed is also brimming with self belief as he continues to recover from a painful shin injury.

The 18-year-old said: “Hopefully the injuries are all behind me now and I can push on for the season.

“I think I can make a name for myself this season and it’s up to me now to produce the goods on the track.”

Meanwhile Alan McKie vowed to tap into British high-jumping’s feel good factor following Germaine Mason’s Olympic silver medal and is hoping to do so at the European Under-23 Championships in Lithuania.

“British high-jumping’s success has really gone through the roof in the last couple of years and it’s great to be part of that,” said McKie.

“The decision for Germaine Mason to come back and compete for Britain has given us a huge boost and set the standard for us all to follow.

“I’ve met him quite a few times now and he’s a great bloke – he’s taught me a lot already and I hope to see him a lot this season.”


Heroes 2009
From left: second McKie, seventh Flannery, tenth Ahmed