Athletics: O'Rourke leading light for home team in Cork
DERVAL O'ROURKE is part of a world-class sprint hurdles field that is set to provide one of the highlights of the Cork City Sports tomorrow.
The organisers have pulled off a big coup by attracting Canada's Priscilla Lopes-Schlep, who took bronze in the Beijing Olympics and was second at last summer's World Championships, where O'Rourke was fourth.
O'Rourke will also be taking on Kellie Wells, runner-up to Lolo Jones at last weekend's US Championships.
Ireland's premier athletics meeting has moved to a new home -- Cork Institute of Technology -- in its 59th year and O'Rourke, coming off a win in Greece mid-week (in 13.13) and with a 12.80 run already under her belt this summer, will surely relish the challenge.
Two former world sprint champions, Kim Collins (St Kitts & Nevis) and Lauryn Williams (USA), Australia's former world 5000m bronze medallist Craig Mottram and exciting American high jumper Dusty Jonas are among the other world-class attractions. Olive Loughnane and Paul Hession are among the top Irish on show.
Loughnane and fellow Olympian Jamie Costin will race in the combined 3,000m walk, from which local star Robert Heffernan has been a late withdrawal with an injury niggle.
Williams heads up a list of world-class sprinters that includes Cydonie Mothersill (Cayman Islands), former world junior champion Me'Lisa Barber and Jamaica's Sheri Ann Brooks.
All of Ireland's top female flat sprinters will be involved.
Hession, who won the 200m in Cork last year, is expected to concentrate on his half-lap speciality but faces stiff competition from Collins and last year's 100m winner Brendan Christian (Antigua).
Kilkenny's Olympian Joanne Cuddihy makes a welcome return and is expected to contest the 400m despite being forced out of the European Team Championships with an ankle injury.
Mottram is racing in the 1500m and Erin Donohue is among a group of Americans in the 1500m. The race will include a strong Irish challenge from Rose-Ann Galligan, Hazel Murphy and Olympian Roisin McGettigan.
Jonas is joint top of this season's world high-jump rankings with 2.33m. He's part of a promising field, which includes fellow American Keith Moffatt, Poland's Gezegorz Sposob (who has a 2.34m personal best) and Ireland's Kourosh Fouroughi.
The move to the CIT track allows for a top-class women's hammer competition, though sadly without Eileen O'Keeffe, who is out of international action this season.
It includes Germany's Kathrin Klaas (fourth at the World Championships) and the Marghieva sisters from Moldova, who have 70-plus personal bests. Rachel Akers will lead the home challenge.
Elsewhere, Wexford 400m hurdler Brona Furlong (Slaney Olympic) brought to 27 the number of Irish athletes who have qualified for the upcoming European Championships in Barcelona by equalling the qualifying standard (57.80) when finishing second in Belgium mid-week.
Cork City Sports Timetable -- 1.30: WHammer; 2.15: W100m, WHJ, MLJ and MPV; 2.20: M100m; 2.35: W400m; 2.45: M400m; 2.55: W1500m; 3.05: M1500m; 3.15: 3000m Walk (mixed), MHJ and WLJ; 3.35: W100H; 3.45: M3000m; 4.0: W200m; 4.10: M200m; 4.20: 1500m Development.