A 12-year-old from Belfast ran a 5K in an astonishing time of 16 minutes and 23 seconds on Sunday, breaking her own world record by 13 seconds.
Emer McKee, a member of Willowfield Harriers in Belfast, recorded the time at the Lisburn Festival of Running. Her previous record of 16.27 was set at the ChampionChip Ireland 5K at Down Royal Racecourse on Sunday, April 24.
According to North Belfast Harriers, one of the oldest athletics clubs in Northern Ireland, the previous record for a 5K by a 12-year-old was 17:16, recorded by Annabella Veltcheva in Clermont, Florida, in 2017.
Among those congratulating Emer on social media were her club, Willowfield Harriers, who said: ‘Our wee superstar! Super proud of Emer and what she has [achieved]!’ Steven Donegan, men’s captain of North Down Athletics Club, said: ‘A 12-year-old girl ran something like 16:40 at the ChampionChip Ireland 5K this morning, and she fell on the route! Unbelievable! World's best, apparently’.
Emer’s school, Our Lady and St Patrick’s College, also paid tribute, referring to the runner as a ‘phenomenal talent.’
Emer said she joined her running club at the age of nine after taking part in parkruns with her family. ‘Everybody there was really nice and supportive and friendly,’ she said. ‘All my coaches have helped me to just keep at it.’
According to Emer’s mother, Catherine, she had previously run an even faster time – 16:37 – around Victoria Park in Belfast before Sunday’s race.
‘Training has only [just] started again,’ she told The Irish News. ‘She had been going out on her own during lockdown and training by herself the last few months.
‘She ran 17:47 in October at Down Royal and was told she was six seconds off a world record for an 11-year-old. She was determined that when she turned 12 she'd beat it.
‘She is so determined and worked really hard to do it. She is delighted.’
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