Loughnane ready to do battle with old foe Hong
MEMORIES of that epic physical and mental duel that earned Olive Loughnane a silver medal in the 2009 World Championship will be reignited in the Phoenix Park on Sunday.
Alongside Loughnane in the women's 20km field (at 11.45) for the Dublin Grand Prix of Race Walking will be China's Liu Hong, who Loughnane relegated to bronze in their terrific battle in Berlin two years ago.
Loughnane (35) is racing sparingly this season, aware of the fact that the World Championships in Daegu (Korea) are taking place so late (Aug 27-Sept 4).
But her form has already been good enough to produce an early Olympic qualifying time and she was lying second in the European Cup in Portugal last month until disqualified on the final lap.
Sunday's world-class field also includes He Qin, another Chinese walker who took silver at World Juniors last summer, and Australia's Commonwealth Games champion Claire Tallent.
Robert Heffernan, who has also already clinched Olympic qualification and was fourth in last summer's European 20km and 50km, also faces some tough opposition in the men's 20km (11.30).
Leitrim's Colin Griffin is chasing Olympic qualification in the 50km (9.30), which features the gold and silver medallists from Beijing -- Alex Schwazer (Italy) and Jared Tallent (Australia).
Jamie Costin, returning from injury, will do the 10km as will Laura Reynolds, who is focusing on the upcoming European U-23s, while rising star Kate Veale is doing the U-18 3km (10.50) ahead of her attack on the World Youths in France on July 6-10.
Veale is one of seven Irish teens who have qualified for the World Youths Championship in Lille, alongside fellow walker Evan Lynch (Clonmel), sprinter Marcus Lawlor (Carlow), middle-distance runners Ruari Finnegan (Letterkenny) and Shane Fitzsimons (Mullingar), Ferrybank hurdler Megan Kiely and Greystones high-jumper Philippa Rogan.
Most of them starred at the recent Irish Schools championships and many more of those champions will take part in tomorrow's Aviva Tailteann Inter-provincials at Morton Stadium (12.30) and/or Sunday's Woodies DIY Junior and U-23 championships in Tullamore.