Ryan Highlight of World Championships for Irish

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

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It was a rollercoaster championship for the Irish at the World Track and Field Championships in Daegu, South Korea. The highlight of the championships was undoubtedly Deirdre Ryan’s (DSD AC) stunning performance to finish sixth in the women’s high jump final with a best jump of 1.93m. Deirdre Ryan had set a new Irish record of 1.95m in the qualification round which was also the A qualification standard for the London Olympics.

Ciaran O’Lionaird (Leevale AC) also proved his championships credentials when finishing 10th in the 1500m final in 3:37.81, his third fastest time ever. This has been a thrilling championship for the 23 year old athlete becoming only the second Irish man ever to make a 1500m final at World championships.

Alistair Cragg finished 15th in the 5000m with a time of 13:45.33 in his first World Championships final, in Daegu, South Korea. The race was won by Britain’s Mo Farah in 13:23.36. Cragg remained in the top 6 in the opening laps in which the pace varied considerably. At the mid-way point in the race Bilisuma Shugi of Bahrain upped the pace considerably to stretch the field. Cragg was unable to respond and was dropped from the lead pack. He battled on and crossed the line in 15th position.

Wicklow’s Fionnuala Britton (Kilcoole AC) was unfortunate not to make the 3000m Steeplechase final finishing sixth in heat one in 9:41.17 just one spot outside a fastest qualification spot. While Stephanie O’Reilly ran 9:55.49 in heat three to finish 8th and 22nd overall.

In the sprint events, Derval O’Rourke (Leevale AC) who is a phenomenal championship performer had to withdraw from the semi-final of the women’s 100m hurdles due to a calf injury sustained in the heats. While there was huge disappointment also for Irish record holder Paul Hession (Athenry AC), who did not progress to the 200m semi-final after finishing fourth in his heat in 21.02. Double paralympian champion Jason Smyth finished fifth in the 100m heat in 10.57 into a -1.7 wind. This is outside his personal best of 10.22 which he set this year and he did not progress to the semi-finals.

Joanne Cuddihy (KCH) produced a season’s best of 51.82 to finish third in round one of the 400m, securing an automatic qualification place into the semi-final. The Kilkenny woman was however disqualified from the semi-final for false starting. Joanne Cuddihy was on the track again, with Marian Heffernan, Claire Bergin and Michelle Carey in the women’s 4×400m heats. The team produced a quality performance to finish fourth in a new Irish Record of 3:27.48, improving on the 3.30.11 they ran at the European Championships in Barcelona last year. Unfortunately this wasn’t good enough to make the final. The quartet however importantly finished in 12th position overall which will greatly help them in achieving the Olympic qualification standard.

There was disappointment all round for the walkers who have historically been top performers for the Irish at major championships. World Silver medallist in Berlin two years ago, Olive Loughnane (Loughrea AC) finished in a disappointing 16th place in the 20km walk in 1:34.02. Colin Griffin (Ballinamore AC) was disqualified from the 50km walk when he was on pace for a personal best and Olympic A qualification standard. While Robert Heffernan (Togher AC) had to return home from the championships to attend his mother’s funeral following her untimely death.

Irish record holder, Tori Pena (Finn Valley AC) didn’t progress to the final of the Women’s Pole Vault Pena after clearing her opening height of 4.10m but then failed three times at 4.25m. This is short of her Irish Record of 4.40m which she set earlier this season.

Kevin Ankrom, Athletics Ireland High Performance Director said: “It was a championship of mixed performances. We had some disappointments but we will work with these athletes to get them back to where they need to be, we also had some real highlights with a new crop of athletes making significant breakthroughs”.

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