COMMONWEALTH GAMES: Ben Reynolds happy to have big brother support

Ben Reynolds. Pic by Bob Given.
Ben Reynolds. Pic by Bob Given.

Ben Reynolds says being monitored by Big Brother can help him escape an early eviction from Gold Coast 2018 when he begins his bid today.

The 27-year-old from Holywood will open up in the heats of the 110m hurdles in his second appearance at a Commonwealth Games.

Jack Agnew. Pic by Bob Given.

Jack Agnew. Pic by Bob Given.

It’s been a case of keeping it in the family for Reynolds, whose father Josh was a dab hand in the same event by holding the Ulster Schools record for over 40 years before it was wrestled away by his son.

But it’s elder sibling Tom, the athlete development lead for Athletics Northern Ireland, who has been coaching his kid brother all the way to the Gold Coast – eight years after the former decathlete finished ninth at the Commonwealths in Delhi.

And Ben said: “Tom knows me so well. He’s always known me. He knows what I respond best to, whether to increase my training or where we go.

“He knows the subtleties to recognise. So it helps we’re siblings. We’re thankfully past that stage where we have that kind of friction brothers have.

“I’m 27 and he’s 33. When we were younger, we scrapped a bit.

“We’re both pretty competitive but because of the age difference, we never competed against one another when we were younger. There was always a lot of encouragement.

“We both have our strengths which are different. He’s much more built for endurance than me.”

“We both got the qualification standard that year (Delhi) but he got the final spot and I was one position away.

“But I was pleased for him because he wanted it so much. I remember him blasting through his first event, the 100 metres, and being so impressed that he’d stepped up.

“And that inspired me, absolutely.”

Meanwhile, Jack Agnew admits his first Games experience has been one to remember but the 2017 junior para-world champion insists it’s time to get down to business.

The 18-year-old from Belfast is set to begin his Gold Coast outing in the first round of the T54 1500 metres today, the event in which he landed the global Under-20 title in Switzerland last August despite undergoing knee injury just a few weeks before.

“This is my first real senior competition and most of my competitors will be much older and a lot more experienced,” he said. “So it’s a great opportunity and a good learning experience for me.”

The teen has been accompanied Down Under by a huge posse of friends and family, all of whom have backed Agnew since he first took up sport as a junior international for the UK in wheelchair basketball before making the switch to athletics after watching Dave Weir strike gold at the London 2012 Paralympics.

But once the Games are done, daredevil Agnew has a few gets on his to-do-list to tick off.

“I love sharks,” he said. “I spent four weeks in Perth, Western Australia, at the start of the year and was hoping to go shark cage diving but had to pass. But I think it would be fun.”