Monday 21 January 2019

Taipei test for Byrne

Paul Byrne ran a personal best last month. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Paul Byrne ran a personal best last month. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Who can forget the World Student Games of 2015 when Thomas Barr announced his arrival on the international stage when he won the 400m hurdles title?

Barr won't be in Taipei for the 2017 World Student Games but his training partner Paul Byrne (University of Limerick) will be.

Byrne, in the form of his life, ran a personal best time of 50.03 secs last month and followed that up by pushing Barr all the way to the line to take silver in the 400m hurdles at the national championships in Santry.

He goes in the 400m hurdles heats next Thursday - the second day of the athletics programme. On the opening day, four Irish athletes are in action. Marcus Lawler of IT Carlow is pencilled in for the men's 100m heats and also for the 200m later in the week.

Lawler looked in great form earlier this season with his time of 10.30 secs for 100m putting him third on the all-time Irish list. At the European Team Championships in June, he ran a personal best 20.71 secs for 200m but picked up an injury. He missed out on the national championships and hasn't competed since.

Niamh Whelan of UL, a consistent performer in the Irish vest for over eight years, goes in the women's 200m heats, while DCU's Kevin Kelly will run in the 1500m heats.

Ireland's only entrant in the women's 10,000m is Emma Mitchell of Queen's who has had a breakthrough season, running a best time of 32:51.78 last May. She's also entered for the 5000m, although since the two events are separated by only two days, she's unlikely to compete in both races.

Byrne is first up of the Irish on Thursday followed by Olympian Michelle Finn of UL in the women's steeplechase.

Despite hitting a hurdle, Finn took silver at the National Championships and will hope to improve on her season's best of 9 mins 55 secs. She's run 9 mins 43 secs in the past.

On the third day of competition, Sarah Lavin of UCD will compete in the 100m hurdles heats. Also running are Phil Healy and Marcus Lawler in the 200m heats. Later in the day, Shona Heaslip of IT Tralee lines out in the 5000m.

Finally, on Saturday, August 26, DCU's Cian McManamon has an early start in the 20km walk, followed by Mark English of UCD in the 800m heats.

English had a good start to the season, running 1:45.42, but picked up an injury and didn't do himself justice at the World Championships in London.

Finally Bedford-based Matt Bergin, a graduate of the University of New Mexico, goes in the men's 5000m.

A total of 10,000 athletes will compete in 21 sports in Taipei. Ireland is sending a squad of 64 - swimmers and footballers as well as athletes.

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