ATHLETES frustrated by the unusually high number of false starts at the Woodies DIY Senior Indoor Championships will have a last-gasp opportunity to qualify for the upcoming European Indoors at Athlone IT again next Saturday.
Top Irish sprinter Ailis McSweeney was among those furious at being disqualified at AIT last weekend. Injury forced McSweeney, Ireland's 100m record holder, to miss the Olympics last summer when she impressed off-track as an RTE pundit.
A recent niggle meant she was depending on some fast times last weekend to get the 60m qualifying time (7.36 secs) for the European Indoors in Gothenburg from March 1-3. But she was disqualified for false starting in the 60m final, even though she was adamant that she had not broken before the gun.
There were seven false starts in Sunday's 60m races and four in one men's heat alone, which included men's title favourite David Hynes.
"It's really hard to know what exactly was going wrong but I did think that the gun sounded unusual, very muffled, so perhaps that contributed to the problem," McSweeney said.
"When you false start, even by the tiniest fraction, you always know yourself but I genuinely didn't think I had, and Amy Foster was the same and very upset."
Defending indoor champion Foster at least had the consolation of achieving European qualifying when she ran a 7.33 PB in the heats.
With the team for Gothenburg not being confirmed until next Sunday, McSweeney will be among those with a last-gasp chance to do it in AIT again next weekend.
There was speculation that the blocks used in Athlone may have too finely calibrated and overly sensitive. However, the meeting's technical director, John Cronin, said they were satisfied that their equipment was working correctly.
"There was a large number of false starts," he acknowledged. "Like all competitions, we will have a full review at our next meeting. We got the opportunity to go into the TV van afterwards and the replays we viewed corroborated that they were false starts."
Elsewhere, the death has taken place, at his home in Garden City, New York, of Galway discus thrower Cummin Clancy (90).
A native of Oughterard, he was a 26-year-old garda and Donore Harrier when he competed in the 1948 Olympics where he was spotted by the legendary Jumbo Elliot, who recruited him to Villanova University. Clancy subsequently settled in New York.
All-Ireland-winning Galway footballer Matthew Clancy is his grandnephew.