Ireland's Tracksters Show Top Form Across the Globe

30 January 2005

The number of Irish athletes who have attained the AAI's Guideline Standards for the upcoming European Indoor Championships in Madrid tripled over the weekend with a series of top performances from Ireland's leading athletes competing in Britain, Europe and the United States.


Alistair Cragg scored an upset victory in the 3000m on Saturday over World Record Holder and Olympic Champion Kenenisa Bekele at the Boston Indoor Games, with a world-leading time of 7:39.89. The Clonliffe Harriers man took advantage of Bekele's miscounting of the laps to record a win at the Reggie Lewis Center with the second fastest time ever run by an Irishman - only Cragg himself has run faster.

On the other side of town on Friday night, Mark Carroll was in vintage form as he defeated U.S. 1500m star Alan Webb over 3000m with a time of 7:46.60 at Boston University. At the age of 33, this is Carroll's second fastest ever indoor 3000m performance and shows he has lost little of the speed which brought him European Indoor Gold in 2000.


The Irish 400m men demonstrated their class at the Birmingham Indoor Games as David Gillick, David McCarthy and Rob Daly were all within the qualifying standard of 47.60 for Madrid. Gillick showed he is the in-form man at the moment with a personal best of 47.14 in his semi-final to remain on top of the Irish rankings for the season. McCarthy won his semi with 47.41 while Daly completed the Irish dominance with victory in the third semi-final with 47.57. McCarthy took victory in the final with his season's best 47.32; neither Gillick nor Daly completed the final.

Paul Hession also got in on the qualification act with a 21.12 clocking in Birmingham, just a tenth of a second outside his personal best set last winter. Gary Ryan was unfortunate to find himself just on the wrong side of the qualifying time with a clocking of 21.45 in his first furlong trip of the '05 indoor season. Ciara Sheehy also came close to qualifying with a 23.82 effort, just .02 outside the standard.


Ailis McSweeney narrowly missed the Irish 60m record of 7.38 held since 1993 by Michele Carroll when she took victory in Bratislava on Sunday with a personal best of 7.39, improving on the previous PB she had set of 7.41 in Budapest on Friday. A major consolation was the fact that she achieved the Madrid standard of 7.40 and has now made a strong claim for selection for her first major championship. Emily Maher was also in top form as she clocked 7.42 in Budapest and again in Bratislava to move into third place on the alltime Irish 60m list behind Carroll and McSweeney.

Derval O'Rourke got close to her National Record of 8.12 with twin clockings of 8.15 in Budapest and Bratislava. She was the winner in the Hungarian capital on Friday but Britain's Diane Allahgreen reversed the result in Slovakia on Sunday.

Paul Brizzel was close to his best in the 60m in Bratislava with a 6.78 clocking to move to the top of the 2005 Irish 60m rankings ahead of Jer O'Donoghue's early season 6.79; both are still seeking the 6.75 standard for Madrid. And Taneisha Scanlon set a new Irish women's triple jump record of 13.21m in Budapest on Friday and remarkably equalled it in Bratislava again on Sunday. Her previous record of 13.00m was set in 2002.


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


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