Letterkenny International to reach new heights
World class athletics set to reach new heights at Letterkenny International Track & Field Meeting on Friday 7th July
An impressive line up of world class athletes will be aiming to be flying high tonight at the Letterkenny International Track & Field meeting. This is the fifth staging of the event at the Danny McDaid track, Aura Leisure Centre with the first event taking place at 7:00pm. The event will feature over 100 athletes from 20 countries competing across a range of 14 track & field events, with many coming in search of a qualifying standard for the World Athletics championships which are due to take place in London in a months’ time.
The Mens Mile is set to feature nine sub 4 minute milers in a stacked field. American college standout Robert Domanic from the University of Mississippi, leads the entry list with a personal best of 3:54 for the mile, set last month in Concord. He will be joined by fellow Americans Sam Prakel (3:57) and Blake Haney (3:56), both scholarship athletes at the University of Oregon. 2015 NCAA Champion Chad Noelle has the fastest 1500m PB in the field with 3:38.35, and is also a 3:57 miler. Daniel Herrera just last month broke the Mexican record for the mile with a run of 3:56.13, and interestingly the record he took was that of Juan Luis Barrios who won the Letterkenny mile in 2014. Americans Joe Stilin (3:58), Tim Gorman (3:58), and Andrew Colley (3:58), as well as New Zealand’s Julian Oakley (3:57) are also confirmed starters for the iconic 1609m distance. The Irish challenge will come from Sean Tobin and City of Derry athlete Conor Bradley. Their PB’s are 4:00 and 4:01 respectively, and both will be looking to get under that legendary 4-minute barrier.
A world class line-up is in store for the womens 3000m steeplechase, where the athletes will be coming in search of the qualifying standard of 9:42 for the London World Championships. Rio Olympian and Commonwealth Games finalist Lennie Waite from Scotland (9:35 PB) will be leading the chase for the standard, following her 2nd place finish at the European Team championships last weekend. Mel Lawrence, USA (9:36 PB), is another athlete who will be making the trip to Letterkenny in the form of her life, and is fresh from a 5th place finish at the USA championships in California last week. She will also be joined by her sister Collier Lawrence, as well as fellow Americans Katie Landwehr and Jessica Kamilos. Who could forget the 2015 race where three Irish athletes achieved qualifying standards for the Olympics in the same race, and where we had the fastest women’s steeplechase ever recorded on Irish soil. Two of that famous “Trio for Rio”, Olympians Kerry O’Flaherty (9:42 PB) and Michelle Finn (9:43 PB), will lead the Irish charge, and both will be looking to make their mark on the 2017 season, having returned from early season injuries. The Spanish duo of Maria Teresa Urbina (9:43 PB) and Maria Jose Perez (9:45 PB) have also come very close to making the World standard in recent weeks, and will be joined by Rolanda Bell of Panama, Zita Kacser of Hungary, Eva Krchova of Czech Republic, Charlotte Taylor-Green of England and Dooneen AC’s Jessica Coyne on the startline.
The Mens 3000m steeplechase is set to be a classic over the barriers as a host of athletes will also be chasing the World championship qualification time of 8:32. Leading the starters list will be double Commonwealth Games finalist, NCAA bronze medallist, and 4 time UK champion Luke Gunn who has a personal best of 8:28.48. Coached by the legendary Bud Baldaro, he will also be joined by rising English star Will Gray, who has had a major breakthrough 2017, running 8:33.68 just last month. 3-time South African national champion Rantso Mokopane will be another athlete aiming to book his place for the London World championships. Mokopane, an African Games finalist, has a personal best of 8:31.72, and may be the man that everyone will be keeping their eyes on as they come off the final waterjump, having also ran 3:38 for 1500m in recent weeks. Fresh from running a lifetime best of 8:32.94 and making the final at the USA Track & Field championships, Brian Shrader will lead the American charge, along with Jordan Mann, Brandon Doughty and Aaron Nelson. Other confirmed starters include Denmark’s Jakob Dybdal Abrahamsen and Italy’s Giuseppe Gerratana. The North-West crowd will be taking a very keen interest on this race as Derry Track club athlete Adam Kirk-Smith will be looking to improve on his already sensational year, having achieved a Commonwealth Games standard and lifetime best of 8:37.62 just last month.
World championship qualification will also be on the minds of the athletes in the Womens 400m hurdles race. Leading the flight for the time of 56.10 secs will be the English duo of Ese Okoro, 56.67sec PB, and Hayley McLean, 56.43sec PB, who both competed at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. McLean is also a former European Junior champion. The Irish challenge will come from Ballymena & Antrim’s Christine Mc Mahon, 56.06secs PB, another athlete who competed at the Commonwealth Games. McMahon will also be chasing the standard for the 2018 Games in the Gold Coast, Australia, and has the time of 57.30 secs firmly in her sights. We are sure to see a great battle coming up the home straight with Poland’s Joanna Banach, 57.12 secs, and two times African Junior champion, Jean-Mare Senekal, 57.68 secs, of South Africa also confirmed. Letterkenny native Arlene Crossan, who recently qualified for the European Junior championships, and National U-23 champion Kate McGowan, along with National Junior record holder Nessa Cooper-Millett, will be looking to take advantage of having a world class line up in their own backyard.
In the field events, two time British indoor and outdoor champion Scott Lincoln is set to take on some of Ireland’s best shot putters. Lincoln, who is edging closer to the World championships qualifying standard of 20.20m, has a personal best of 19.59m, and last weekend represented Great Britain at the European Athletics Team championships in Lille. Leading the Irish charge will be Galway City Harriers Sean Breathnach, six-time Irish champion, who has a personal best of 18.22m, and who captained the Irish team at the European Team championships in Vaasa, Finland. Donegal will have its own challenger in St. Johnston man John Kelly, who has already broken his Donegal record with a throw of 17.49m this year. The Finn Valley athlete is chasing the European U-23’s, Commonwealth Games and World Student Games standard, and it would be extra special if he managed to get these standards in his own county.
Spectators will barely get a chance to catch their breath as the action doesn’t stop there with many other world class events planned including the mens 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 3000m, javelin and womens 200m, 800m and shot putt. There will be a total of 14 track and field events packed into the international programme which kicks off at 7:00pm, culminating with the grande finale, the Mens Mile, taking to the track at 8:45pm. With the World championships just five weeks away, it is a great opportunity to come out and see many World class athletes gracing the tartan track in Letterkenny on their Road to London. Along with the support of Donegal County Council, Fáilte Ireland, Athletics Ireland and many local businesses, Letterkenny Athletic Club is welcoming everyone to come out and see this night of non-stop athletics action at the Danny McDaid Track, Aura Leisure Centre on Friday evening.
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