Athletics: Hartmann's practice set to go global in Kenya link-up
GERARD Hartmann's world-renowned Limerick physical therapy practice is going global next week with a new arm in Kenya.
Ireland already has one very famous connection with the high-altitude Rift Valley training area of Iten, in the form of famous Cork schoolteacher Br Colm O'Connell, who has coached a plethora of local stars and is currently coaching world 800m record holder David Rudisha.
Hartmann has been treating many of Kenya's world and Olympic champions for the best part of 20 years, both here and abroad, and has now been asked by four-time world champion Lornah Kiplagat to man the physiotherapy side of her High Altitude International Training Centre in Iten.
Kiplagat has not just blazed a trail for female Kenyans through athletics but also through her burgeoning local education foundation, which includes helping young local women to get scholarships to Ivy League colleges.
Between them, Hartmann and his assistant, Ger Keane, already spend 12 weeks annually in Kenya. They plan to expand that to four months a year now and enlist another physio to give 'Hartmann International' a constant presence in Kiplagat's centre.
Hartmann believes Irish athletes could be making much more of the training opportunities that Iten offers.
Britain's double European champion Mo Farah spends half his year there and UK Athletics has just selected it as their primary altitude training centre for 2012 and beyond.
In the absence of injured defending champion Mary Cullen, and with Linda Byrne concentrating on a spring marathon debut, Fionnuala Britton is the hot favourite for the senior women's race (1.50) at Sunday's Woodies DIY All-Ireland Inter-County Cross Country Championships in Derry.
With defending champion Andrew Ledwith also out, the senior men's race looks even more open. If he has shaken off a recent hip problem, Mark Kenneally will be the favourite but faces strong challenges from Alan O'Brien, Gary Murray and Joe Sweeney, and watch especially for Clare legend Seamus Power (40), who skipped the recent 'masters' internationals in Santry to concentrate all his efforts on chasing what would be his 10th title.