Saturday 25 February 2017

Athletics: Hession clocks fastest time in Europe as Irish shine to retain league status

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

Hession: Superb Race. Photo: Sportsfile
Hession: Superb Race. Photo: Sportsfile

PAUL Hession clocked the fastest 200m time in Europe this year and Derval O'Rourke ran an extremely promising 12.80 to help Ireland retain their First League status at the European Team Championships in Budapest yesterday.

Hession beat top Swede Johan Wissman when winning the 200m in 20.46, which puts him top of the European rankings this summer.

And while O'Rourke was second to Turkey's Nevin Yanit (12.74) in the sprint hurdles, her slightly wind-assisted time (+2.1 wind) was one of her fastest ever, another great sign ahead of next month's European Championships in Barcelona.

O'Rourke will have been boosted by seeing her Swedish rival Susanna Kallur come in fourth and the Leevale star also helped take a valuable second place in the 4x100m relay.

Paralympic star Jason Smyth (City of Derry) underlined his talent yet again by winning the 100m in a Northern Ireland record of 10.27.

And Thomas Chamney also took maximum points when he won the 800m in 1:47.86. Despite equalling his season best of 45.32, David Gillick came second in the 400m behind Belgium's Jonathan Borlee (44.99).

Like Mark Christie in the 5,000m, young Ferrybank sprinter Niamh Whelan took a valuable runner-up spot, knocking a big chunk off her 200m personal best when second behind Czech Denisa Rosolova in 23.30.

Fionnula Britton (Sli Chulainn) was third in the steeplechase in 9.42 and there were useful fourth-place finishes from Clare Brady (Celbridge) in the 100m and Kourosh Foroughi (Star of the Sea), who improved his high jump personal best to 2.20m.

A fifth and sixth-place finish from the men's and women's 4x400m relay teams respectively helped Ireland to finish in eighth place overall (of 12 teams) and to retain their position in the second flight of European athletics.

"In my 15 years of involvement, this is the strongest team display I have witnessed and we will aim for a top-five finish next year," said delighted Irish manager Patsy McGonagle.

Irish Independent

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