Mark English (Letterkenny AC) finished a magnificent fifth place in the men’s 800m final on the last day of competition at the World Junior Track and Field Championships in Barcelona, Spain. The Donegal native produced a truly world class performance against a field of the highest quality.
The pace from the gun was ferocious as the Puerto Rican athlete Wesley Vazquez dashed into an early lead. English at this point was back in fifth place, surrounded by the two Kenyan athletes. Vazquez led the pack through the bell in a swift 51.18, a pace he was unlikely to hold until the finish. English was still well placed back in fifth, closing in on the athlete in fourth.
The real fireworks began with 200m to go. The race favourite Nigel Amos of Botswana broke the field apart by scorching into the lead and driving effortlessly towards the line. The two Kenyan athlete’s unleashed kicks of their own as English battled with incredible determination to hold his position. In the end English crossed the line in fifth place in a time of 1.46.02. The race was won by Amos in a new championship record of 1.43.79.
English’s time of 1.46.02 was his second quickest ever for the distance.
Fifth seems to be a popular place for English this year as the Irish Junior Record (1.45.77), he set earlier in the season, moved him to fifth on the Irish all-time list, ahead of Marcus O’Sullivan (1.45.87).
English was the only finalist, amongst the 15 strong Irish team participating at these World Championships. However there was a number of other stand out performance’s produced by other athletes in the squad. Siofra Cleirigh Buttner (D.S.D AC), Joanna Mills (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Ben Kiely (Ferrybank AC) and Sarah Lavin (Emerald AC) all made the semi-finals of their respective events.
Kiely set a massive new personal best of 52.39 to storm into the semi-finals of the men’s 400m hurdles, where he placed seventh. Lavin looked to be heading towards a new personal best during her semi final of the 100m hurdles. However disaster struck when she fell at the ninth hurdle and as a result was unable to finish the race. Mill’s raced to a season best of 54.17 to qualify for the semi-finals of the women’s 400m where she placed eight. Siofra Cleirigh Buttner produced a gutsy performance to place sixth in the women’s 800m semi-finals.
Sarah Collins (Finn Valley AC) put in a gutsy performance to finish 13th in the women’s 3000m final. Collins recorded a personal best of 9.26.26 and was fifth European athlete across the line.
Reigning World Youth Champion Kate Veale (West Waterford AC) placed 18th in the women’s 10,000m Walk. Veale would have expected to finish much higher in the race, based on her pre-championship form. However it wasn’t to be and Veale will no doubt learn from this experience and improve on it in the future.
Finally there was the welcome sight of Dempsey McGuigan (Finn Valley AC) and James McCabe (Dunboyne AC) representing Ireland in the Hammer Throw. Irish Record Holder, McGuigan threw 69.07m to place 20th overall and McCabe threw a new personal best of 69.49m for 18th place.