Thursday 18 April 2019

Illness scare for track duo

O'Rourke and Hession forced out ahead of Berlin test

The Woodies DIY Track & Field Championships at the weekend was, worryingly, without some marquee names because of illness.

With the World Championships in Berlin just two weeks away, Derval O'Rourke and Paul Hession's late withdrawals will cause some concern.

Hession actually won yesterday's opening 100m heat in 11.32 into a big headwind but, suffering from a head cold, then withdrew, clearing the way for Derry Paralympic champion Jason Smyth to win in 10.78.

"I ran the heat to see how I felt but I didn't feel well," Hession revealed. "It's just not worth taking a risk at this stage."

O'Rourke ran 13.12 in Stockholm on Friday night, despite suffering from a chest infection, so she also didn't risk chasing an expected eighth sprint hurdles title. But Eileen O'Keeffe, David Gillick, Alistair Cragg and Olympic racewalkers Olive Loughnane and Robert Heffernan all showed winning form ahead of Berlin.

Gillick dropped down to win his first 200m title in 21.43 into a -3.6 head-wind, and his absence from the 400m allowed Tallaght teenager Brian Gregan to demonstrate his class with a 46.44 personal best.

O'Keeffe secured her ninth hammer title with a season best of 69.91m and also took discus gold, while Cragg looked good taking the 5000m in 13:52 ahead of Tallaght's Sean Connolly (14:01.32) and Mullingar's Mark Christie.

But Martin Fagan's hopes of going to Berlin ended in tears when he was forced to drop out of the 10,000m with a recent Achilles injury.

Athlete of the meet was Ferrybank's Kelly Proper (21). She won the 200m and the long-jump on Saturday, the latter in a wind-assisted 6.68m, the longest jump ever by an Irishwoman. However, her bid for an historic treble was foiled by Leevale's Ailish McSweeney, who pipped her by one hundredth of a second in yesterday's 100m final.

Newbridge's Roseanne Galligan impressed by winning the 800m in 2:04.66 but Deirdre Byrne bounced back later to win the 1500m in 4:25.41 to secure her flight to Germany.

Clonliffe's David Donegan cleared a championship best of 4.91m in the pole vault, while the unluckiest athlete was Raheny's long-time steeplechase leader Mark Kirwan, who had to settle for bronze after a fall at the water jump.

Defending 800m champion Thomas Chamney and his arch-rival and 2007 champion David Campbell (St Coca's) didn't quite produce their usual fireworks in an anti-climactic 800m.

'Chammers' pulled away comfortably in the end to win in 1:49.87 to Campbell's 1:50.20, with Alan O'Brien (Crusaders) third.


As both only have the 'B' qualifying standard for the upcoming World Championships, yesterday's winner is likely to be selected for Berlin.

There's no love lost between them and Campbell had no quibbles yesterday, yet Chamney still wasn't offering much of an olive branch.

"Some people might say there's a bit of bad blood between us over the Olympic selection last year," Chamney said.

"He did a lot of talking but I kept my mouth shut and did my talking here on the track today.

Campbell later took the 1500m title and said he was still hoping the selectors will, like last year, adjust the rules to help accommodate them both when the team is announced tomorrow.

But his hopes may be stymied considering Chamney has confirmed he wants to double up in Berlin.

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