Wednesday 11 December 2019

Irish aiming to raise Barr

Thomas Barr has been running well this season ahead of the World Championships
Thomas Barr has been running well this season ahead of the World Championships

With fast times unlikely in the current chill, Irish track athletes were competing in Spain, the Netherlands, the USA and Belgium as well as in Belfast and Leixlip over the weekend, most of them chasing qualifying times for the big international championships coming up.

Biggest of them all is the World Championships next September in Doha and already sure of his place is Thomas Barr, who posted another sub-50 second time for fourth in the 400m hurdles at the Rome Diamond League.


Race winner was the American Rai Benjamin who ran a time of 47.58, which puts him second in the current world rankings behind Abderrahman Samba of Qatar who ran a time of 47.25 in Shanghai last month.

Also under 48 seconds this season is Karsten Warholm of Norway, winner at the Stockholm Diamond League in 47.85.

Barr is currently world ranked 25th behind - among others - 11 Americans. Although only 26, he's also one of the oldest on the list; Samba and Warholm are 23 and Benjamin 21.

On the plus side, Barr has experience and stamina to fall back on in this particularly long season.

Back in action after competing in medical studies in April was Mark English, who competed in the 800m at Hengelo, a track noted for its fast times.

Earlier this season, English ran a time of 1:46.94 indoors, which was just over a second off the World Championships qualifying mark of 1:45.80. In Hengelo, he ran 1:48.46 butwill surely go faster over the next few weeks.

In the north of Spain, at the Gram Premi Lose Corrales de Buelna, Michele Finn of Leevale AC ran a personal best time of 15 mins 45 secs to finish third in the women's 5000m - well inside the 16 mins 10 secs standard for the European 10,000m Cup in Highgate next month.

At the same meet in the men's 5000m, Sean Tobin of Clonmel AC was moving up the distances and finished third in a personal best 13:56.69, which should see him join Finn on the Irish team at Highgate.

Further south, at a meet in Salamanca, both Éanna Madden from Carrick-on-Shannon AC and Stephen Gaffney of Rathfarnham WSAF ran personal best times of 10.55 and 10.63 respectively for 100m.

In Tenerife, Anna McCauley of City of Lisburn AC, although still only 18, finishing a creditable 14th with 5,044 points in the senior women's event at IAAF Combined Events Challenge in Arona. Her biggest points came in the 100m hurdles, the 200m and the 1500m.


In the men's U20 decathlon, Troy McConville of North Down AC finished fifth with a score of 6,317. An Irish team for the European Team Combined Events next month will be picked on June 17.

A week earlier in Waltham, Massachusetts, Síofra Cléirigh Buttner of Dundrum South Dublin ran a personal best 2:01.83 to win the women's 800m at the Battle Road Twilight Series meet - enough to put her eighth in the European rankings.

About the only athlete missing in action so far is Ciara Mageean, who like Barr, is assured of her place on the team for Doha.

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