In brief: 'Elite' seven lead Irish Euro charge
Published 22/02/2011 | 05:00
Just seven athletes, and only two men, have been named in the Irish team for next month's European Indoor Athletics Championships in Paris, but athletes still have five more days left to qualify, writes Cliona Foley.
"The team is small but elite and with the closing date (for qualification) not until February 27, this gives other athletes who are close to qualifying times the opportunity to attain the standard," said AAI's chairman of high performance, Ray Flynn.
Derval O'Rourke, who pulled out of last weekend's Irish Championships with a groin niggle, is still expected to lead the team in Paris on March 4-6.
Fourth at the World Championships in 2009, O'Rourke won a bronze medal at these championships two years ago and was pipped for gold last summer when she won her second European silver medal outdoors.
Mary Cullen (3,000m), who also won indoor bronze in Italy two years ago, is also included, as is Kelly Proper, who qualified for the long-jump final in Turin.
With David Gillick and Paul Hession skipping indoors this season, Clonliffe's Brian Gregan (400m) and Letterkenny's Darren McBrearty (800m) are the only male qualifiers to date. The team also includes Leevale sprinter Ailis McSweeney and Finn Valley pole-vaulter Tori Pena.
Neil Robertson is in line for a possible Betfred.com World Championship quarter-final against the man he defeated to land last year's title.
Robertson and Graeme Dott were placed in the same quarter of the draw, and each man will face a qualifier first.
Awaiting Robertson in the second round, providing he comes through his opening test, could be Hong Kong's Marco Fu, with Dott and Ali Carter seeded to meet for the right to take on Australia's first Crucible champion.
Qualifying takes place in Sheffield next month.
The World Championship runs from April 16 to May 2.
Defending champions Australia continued their 29-match unbeaten streak in the World Cup with a 91-run win over Zimbabwe in their opening Group A clash at Ahmedabad yesterday.
Batting first, Ricky Ponting's side endured testing spin conditions for large parts of their innings, but Shane Watson's 79 and some late hitting by Michael Clarke (58 not out) racked up a respectable 262-6 for the four-time cup winners.
In response, Zimbabwe crumbled in the face of Australia's pace attack as Mitchell Johnson and Shaun Tait picked up four and two wickets respectively, with spinner Jason Krejza chipping in with two of his own to help skittle their opponents for 171.