Tomas Coman Back to His Best - 2004 National Championships Report

26 July 2004

Although the wind did its best to handicap some of the performances over
the weekend, the 132nd Woodies National T&F Championships again produced
the thrills and spills that we have grown accustomed to from Ireland's
premier track & field meeting.

All but three of the Irish Olympic team were on duty but it was some of the
non Athens-bound athletes who really caught the imagination over the
action packed weekend. Chief among them was the shock 400m victory by
Tomas Coman who managed to put years of injury behind him to record an
outstanding victory in 45.91 seconds; an Olympic B standard and Championships best performance with pre-race favourite Rob Daly also running superbly to break 46 seconds for the first time just 7/100th of a second behind the winner.

Coman, who was Ireland's individual representative in the 400m in Sydney 2000 and Edmonton 2001, has been forced to miss the golden years of the country's 4x400m relay exploits through injury, and the spectacular nature of his victory promises much in the years ahead for the quiet-spoken Tipperary man.

In the three immediate places behind him were World Indoor relay medallists
Daly and David Gillick (also recording a personal best 46.27) and former World Indoor finallist David McCarthy, all running under 47 seconds. It was not lost on informed spectators that another three of the National Record breaking team from Munich 2002 (World Indoor bronze medallist Paul McKee, Gary Ryan, and Antoine Burke) were watching in the stands out through injury in what is really a golden era for Irish 400m running.

Olympic silver medallist Sonia O'Sullivan came into the Championships
looking for some sharpening work before Athens in the 800m, but after reaching the bell in 66 secs 23-year-old Aoife Byrne kicked for home 200m out bringing Kelly McNeice-Reid with her and leaving O'Sullivan to settle for third behind Byrne's winning time of 2:06.40.

In the men's 800m James Nolan took the title he last won in 2000 with a
scintillating last 150m to show the Offaly man is nearing the type of form
that won him a silver medal in the European Indoors 4 years ago.

Paul Hession was determined to put behind him the disappointment of missing
the Olympic Games by 2/100th of a second early last week and he duly did
winning his first 200m from a fighting effort by Paul Brizzel in 21.43,
into a -5.1m/s head wind.

The opening event of the Championships saw two Athens-bound athletes go head to head in the 10,000m Walk and after sharing the workload for the first
8km Robert Heffernan made a decisive break for home to regain his title in
a speedy 39:00.04, just 9 seconds ahead of National 50km record holder
Jamie Costin who was taking nearly 2 minutes off his PB with 39:09.88.
Colin Griffin in third place too made significant progress ducking under 41
minutes for the first time with 40:57.43, the first time 3 Irishmen have
ever gone under 41 minutes in the same race.

In the women's 5000m Walk the recent injury problems suffered by Gillian
O'Sullivan came to the fore as she received her her third warning late in
the race to suffer a rare disqualification letting fellow Athens-bound
walker Olive Loughnane take the title in 22:13.89.

Peter Coghlan showed his experience in coping with the difficult winds
while claiming his 8th 110mH title in a most impressive 13.80 secs while
Athens-bound Derval O'Rourke recovered from her extended stay in a Greek
hospital last week to win her third title over 100mH.

The women's 1500m was packed with experience, with no less than three
Olympians taking part, but it was Freda Davoren who won out in the end of a
tactical race gaining revenge over Roisin McGettigan for last year's
defeat in 4:20.98 after going through 800m in a sluggish 2:26.

Alistair Cragg kept it simpler in the men's equivalent by taking the lead
from the gun and with only Meath's Junior sensation Colin Costello keeping him
company for much of the race, he eventually won pretty much as he liked in
3:44.37 ahead of Costello and Mark Carroll who had earlier won the 5000m in
silky smooth fashion.

The women's 5000m went right down to the wire. Una English entered
the home straight with a 20 metre lead over Maria McCambridge and although
McCambridge made a gallant effort it looked like she was going to run out
of track - but about 10m before the finish line she managed to produce one last effort to just pip English on the line.

Paul Brizzel made up for the disappointment of losing his 200m crown by
winning his first 100m title ahead of the ever improving Jer O'Donoghue in
10.56, while Ciara Sheehy completed her third successive 100m/200m double.

Karen Shinkins was made work all the way for her victory as European Junior silver medallist Joanne Cuddihy came up on her shoulder at the crown of the bend. But the Newbridge woman showed the fighting qualities that she
has become renowned for in recent times and moved away down the home straight for her 8th consecutive title.

In the field Eileen O'Keeffe continues to progress at a rapid rate and her
CBP of 62.44m was right out of the top drawer. Although the non-appearance of Adrian O'Dwyer through injury took away somewhat from the High Jump, Deirdre Ryan cleared 1.80m before making three brave attempts of a National record of 1.90m before bowing out in the windy conditions.

Terry McHugh won his unprecedented 21st successive javelin title while Paddy
McGrath and Roman Linscheid had a ding-dong battle in the men's hammer
before McGrath eventually won out with an impressive 68.67m.


Disclaimer - The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the AAI


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