English hope of Irish medal
After winning a bronze at last year's European outdoor championships, UCD's Mark English is Ireland's only realistic hope of a medal at the European Indoors starting tomorrow in the Czech capital of Prague.
English, with a time of 1 mins 47.17 secs, is currently ranked fourth European behind two Poles and a Swede. Adam Kszclot ran 1:45.77 in Stockholm on February 19, closely followed by Marcin Lewandowski in 1:45.78 and Sweden's Andrea Almgren in 1:46.56.
Other likely contenders include Norway's Thomas Roth and a trio of Britons, led by Guy Learnmouth. Also competing for Ireland is Declan Murray with a season's best of 1:48.32.
In the women's 800m, UCD's Ciara Everard is hoping to repeat her Gothenburg 2013 performance when she reached the final.
After a nightmare year of injuries and acidents, Everard is back in form and ran 2:03.39 to win the 800m title at the National Indoors. In Prague, she will take on on, among others, Czech Republic's world 400m hurdles champion Zuzana Hejnova.
Topping the current list is Britain's Jenny Meadows with a time of 1:59.21 - the only sub-two minute time this season.
Danny Mooney and John Travers run in the men's 1500m, where the leading European is Homiyu Tesfaye, the controversial Ethiopian who runs for Germany and has a season's best of 3:34.13. Also in the mix are Britain's Lee Emanuele with 3:35.66. and the Kenyan Ilham Tanui Ozbilen who runs for Turkey and took silver at the 2012 World Indoors.
Dara Kerwick goes in the 400m, where the defending champion Pavel Maslak and Jan Tesar, both from the Czech Republic, are certain to have the full support of the crowd.
With a bit of luck, Kerwick, whose time of 46.53 secs ranks him 11th in Europe could at least make the semi-finals.
Britain's Mo Farah, after setting a new world two-mile record and running 7:33.1 for 3000m along the way, is the runaway favourite for the 3000m, where Paul Pollock will be aiming to improve on his January time of 7:59.25.
In the 60m hurdles, Gerard O'Donnell of Carrick-on-Shannon has knocked chunks off his time over the winter. His best of 7.73 secs from Ghent last month puts him 22nd in a list topped by Dmitri Bascou of France, who has a time of 7.48 secs.
Another breakthrough athlete this season is Ulsterman Adam McMullen who jumped a personal best 7.80m at the National Indoors, putting him second on the all-time Irish list. With long jump qualification tomorrow afternoon, he'll be the first of the Irish in action. An Irish team will also compete in the men's 4 x 400m on Sunday.