Saturday 22 October 2016

More Irish get Rio standard

Seán Hehir has made the new Olympic marathon standard (SPORTSFILE)
Seán Hehir has made the new Olympic marathon standard (SPORTSFILE)

A total of 17 changes to entry standards for the track and field programme by the IAAF means that the number of Irish qualifiers for the Rio Olympics next summer has ballooned.

Most notably, the men and women's marathon times have changed from 2:42:00 to 2:45:00 for women, and from 2:17 to 2:19 for men.

This means that eight Irish men now have the qualification standard - Kevin Seaward, Sergiu Ciobanu, Mick Clohisey and Paul Pollock, who were inside the previous standard of 2:16, are joined by Gary Thornton, Thomas Frazer, Seán Hehir and Eoin Callaghan. Mark Kirwin is just outside the new standard at 2:19.30.

As for the women, Lizzie Lee, Fionnuala McCormack, Breege Connolly and Barbara Sanchez, who ran 2:42.43 in Valencia recently, now have qualifying marks.

Both the women and men's 800m entry standards have been changed as well - the women's from 2:01.00 to 2:01.50 and the men's from 1:45.80 to 1:46.00.

Both Ciara Everard and Ciara Mageean will fancy their chances of making that time. The 1500m also has softer entry standards with 3:36.20 for men and  4:07.00 for women, which means Mageean is now qualified with her time of 4:06.49 from Rieti in September.

The women's 5000m standard is changed from 15 mins 20 secs to 15 mins 24 secs; Mary Cullen has run 15:26.46 this year. The women's steeplechase standard remains the the same but the men's is revised to 8:30.00. Women's high jump is now 1.93, the triple jump is 14.15 and the shot putt 17.75. The men's triple jump standard is now 16.85, the discus 65m, and the hammer 77m, still beyond the reach of current Irish athletes.

In the walks, the women's 20km is now 1 hrs 36 mins and the men's 50km 4 hrs 6 mins; both Robert Heffernan and Brendan Boyce are comfortably inside that time.

Like at the World Championships last summer, a quota system will also operate - 56 places are available in the 100m and 200m; 48 in the 400m and 800m, 45 in the 1500m and steeplechase, 400 in the 100m, 110m and 400m hurdles, and only 32 in the field and combined events. 

From an Irish point of view, it means a large team of about 30 will head for Rio. But it does not necessarily mean more medals.

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