English in top form to keep Ireland's medal hopes alive
IRELAND'S medal hopes at the World Junior Championships in Barcelona would now appear to rest largely on Letterkenny AC's Mark English.
A European Youth Olympic champion at 1,000m two years ago, 19-year-old English had no problems progressing through the packed 800m heats yesterday. He finished second in his heat in 1:51.74 and was then promoted to first after the Ethiopian winner was disqualified.
Limerick's Sarah Lavin (Emerald AC), who broke Derval O'Rourke's Irish junior indoor record this season, clinched a place spot in today's 100m hurdles semi-finals (17.35 Irish time) by finishing third her heat in 13:90 -- not far off her personal best of 13:71 despite running into a big head wind.
That represented a great effort by Lavin, who is unlikely to go any further, leaving English, who has a personal best of 1:45.7, as our only real hope of making the podium at these ultra-competitive championships.
The Donegal man's 800m heat was the slowest of seven but he has a good draw for today's semi-finals (19.15 Irish time). Of his opponents, only Puerto Rican Wesley Vasquez (1:45.6) has ever run faster than him.
Karl Griffin (Tir Chonaill AC) failed to get through the heats, finishing seventh in 1:51.98 in a race won by Canada's Brandon McBride in 1:49.77.
Dunboyne's James McCabe broke 69 metres for the first time when he pulled out a big personal best of 69.49m with his very first throw in the hammer, but it wasn't good enough to reach the final.
Finn Valley's Dempsey McGuigan, the Irish junior record holder at 70.02m, threw 69.27m in the other qualifying group, but it took more than 71m to make the final.