Emer McKee: Belfast 12-year-old sets new world 5km record for athlete of her age

Emer McKee on the way to setting her new world record at Down Royal Racecourse over the weekend
Emer McKee is a member of the Willowfield club in East Belfast

A 12-year-old Belfast girl says she just tries to "run as fast as I can" after producing a 5km road race time of 16 minutes and 40 seconds - a world record for her age.

Emer McKee set the remarkable time while running in an event at Down Royal Racecourse over the weekend.

The running prodigy is a member of the Willowfield Club in East Belfast.

"Normally I'm just running as fast as I can and just waiting for it to be over," she told BBC Radio Ulster.

"I started doing Parkruns and I then joined the running club when I was nine and everybody there was really nice and supportive and friendly.

"All my coaches have helped me to just keep at it."

Her mother Catherine says Emer's world-best time for a 12-year-old has left her "bursting with pride".

"With lockdown she hasn't been able to do much training with her group, so she has been training by herself," said Catherine.

"She's so determined and so motivated. She just gets out there in all weathers.

"She puts so much effort into everything she does and running is no different. It's been keeping her going through lockdown, getting out of the house to go for a run.

"She gets a lot of support from the other runners in her club and the coaches are great, and the teachers at primary school as well who encouraged her."

Emer told BBC Radio Ulster's Evening Extra that she had produced an even faster time in a recent run in Belfast which was not officially timed - unlike last weekend's event.

"A couple of weeks ago, I ran at Victoria Park and did 16:37 so when the races started [after lockdown] I was so pleased because I was still in my peak form."

Records appear to indicate that the previous world's best 5km road race time for a 12-year-old was a mark of 17:16 in Florida by Annabella Veltcheva in March 2017.

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