Birthday boy Lawler a record-breaker
Carlow's Marcus Lawler provided a fitting climax to the GloHealth National Indoor Championships in Athlone yesterday, blasting his way to a stadium record of 20.96 seconds in the final race of the day, the men's 200m.
Having been well beaten in the 60m final - a race won by Shercock's Craig Lynch in 6.81 seconds - Lawler looked much more at home over 200m, and his first sub-21 clocking indoors proved an ideal way to celebrate his 21st birthday.
"The aim was to win and break 21 seconds, and I managed to achieve it," he said. "That wraps up my indoor season. Now I'll get back into training and look at the European Championships, then please God I can qualify for Rio."
Also laying down a marker for the season ahead was Ben Reynolds, who set a personal best of 7.73 to win the 60m hurdles ahead of Gerard O'Donnell (7.90), his time just shy of the 7.72 qualifying standard for next month's IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland.
"My preparation hasn't been the best, so I'm pleased," said Reynolds, who will compete in the Czech Republic and England next weekend in a bid to secure the time.
If he can't, then Athletics Ireland will be forced to choose between him and Mark English, who has yet to secure the 800m qualifying time, for the one automatic entry allowed.
English breezed to his fourth national title yesterday, running 1:51.57 to win the 800m final ahead of Kieran Kelly (1:52.23).
In the heats on Saturday, English blitzed a 1:48.15 solo effort. "It's a solid run," he said afterwards. "I'm happy with the shape I'm in."
Fellow UCD student Ciara Mageean was equally dominant in the women's 800m, coasting to victory in 2:03.76. Though Mageean is qualified for the World Indoors, she has opted out, preferring to focus on preparing for the outdoor season.
In the field events, the undoubted star yesterday was Sean Breathnach, who at 37 set a national record of 18.16 metres in the shot put, removing Paul Quirke's 25-year-old mark of 18.07m.
Eoin Everard of Kilkenny City Harriers took gold in both the 1500m and 3000m and had to spend much of the hour between races taking a mandatory drug test.
The 29-year-old is continuing to improve despite working full-time as a physio.
"It's a myth that you're not able to train when working full-time," he said. "I just get up at half-six in the morning. I'm really enjoying it, and when you enjoy the running, results will come."
Bandon's Phil Healy was queen of the sprints yesterday, taking double gold in the 60m and 200m, while in the 60m hurdles, UCD's Sarah Lavin was a commanding winner in 8.27. Sinead Denny was equally dominant in the 400m, winning in 53.57.