DAVID Gillick is skipping indoor racing this season, despite previously using it as a launch pad for some of his best summer performances.
The Dundrum South Dublin star, a two-time European indoor 400m champion who was sixth at the 2009 World Championships outdoors, has returned to his old coach and training base in Loughborough and still has to qualify for London 2012.
His coach Nick Dakin revealed yesterday that they are skipping indoors completely to concentrate their energies on an Olympic programme that will take in the European Championships in Helsinki (June 27-July 1).
This is the first year the Europeans have been run in the same year as the Olympics, and many feel that they will lack competitiveness due to their proximity to the Games, which start on July 27.
But Dakin says the opposite and that they have included the Europeans in Gillick's schedule specifically because having two big championships in one summer means there may be a dearth of competitive 400m races elsewhere.
"The Olympics are the main focus but they're relatively early, and if you don't take in the Europeans I don't think there will be too many opportunities to get into really competitive races," he said.
Gillick is just back from a three-week training camp in South Africa and is heading to California at the end of March. Dakin said Gillick will look to race on both coasts and may even travel to the Caribbean to get in some high-quality early season events.
His Irish record 400m is 44.77 seconds, well inside the Olympic 'A' standard qualification (45.30), but his ill-fated spell in America and injuries last year saw him fail to break 46.50.
However, he maintained his €40,000 grant in this week's Sports Council announcements, as did Derval O'Rourke, Olive Loughnane and Robert Heffernan.
Brian Gregan, the fastest Irishman over 400m in 2011 (45.96) and a European U-23 silver medallist, did not make it onto the scheme because he must lower his PB to 45.30 to even get onto the lowest rung -- 'international' -- worth €12,000.
However, Gregan (22) will still be supported through Athletics Ireland's 'Athletes Development Fund', which supports our underage talent.
Colin Griffin (50km walk), long jumper Kelly Proper, 800m men David Campbell and Thomas Chamney, top sprinter Ailis McSweeney and long-distance runner Mary Cullen have all just lost their grants.
But the last three are still under consideration pending medicals at the Irish Institute of Sport.
Gregan is competing in Ghent tomorrow as is O'Rourke and North Down sprint hurdler Ben Reynolds, whose 7.75 seconds last weekend was just one hundredth of a second short of the World Indoor qualifying.
Elsewhere, Ferrybank long jumper Proper and Newbridge's Rose-Anne Galligan (3,000m) are both competing in tomorrow's world-class Birmingham Indoors.