By Owen Morgan
American-based distance runner Emily Kearney produced a spectacular marathon debut to become the latest Welsh athlete to gain the Commonwealth Games nomination standard.
On Sunday, Kearney ran a hugely impressive 2:34.28 on her first venture over 26.2 miles, finishing 13th at the Chevron Houston Marathon.
The time was well within the Welsh team’s nomination standard of 2:35.30 for this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
An amazing performance for Emily Kearney at @HoustonMarathon 👏👏👏⬇️ https://t.co/qYYiod3usH pic.twitter.com/wV5oxSacQC
— @welshathletics (@WelshAthletics) January 16, 2022
Kearney, who competes for Wirral AC back in the UK, has been making a name for herself on the American University circuit where she competes for Milligan University in Tennessee where she is a graduate student.
During an eye-catching 2021 outdoor track season Kearney set NAIA all-time records in the 5k (15:39.65) and 10k (33:09.65). She captured National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national titles and broke national championship meet records in both events.
She also finished the year with the second-fastest 1500 (4:26.46) and fourth-best 800 (2:12.66) on the NAIA leaderboards.
Emily Kearney of @MilliganBuffs sets a new record in the 10k with a time of 34:07.91!!!#PlayNAIA #collegetrack #NAIATrack pic.twitter.com/rK9KgKbs3Z
— NAIA (@NAIA) May 27, 2021
Kearney’s performances earned her a host of awards across the pond last year including The US Track and Field and Cross Country Association (USTFCCCA) NAIA Women’s Track Athlete of the Year, NAIA Most Outstanding Championship Performer and American Athletics Conference Runner of the Year honours.
Sunday’s time in Houston puts Kearney seventh on the Welsh women’s marathon list where she sits behind Welsh record holder Natasha Cockram, Clara Davies and Rosie Edwards, who have all also achieved the Welsh nomination standard in the past year.