Saturday 23 September 2017

Tough calls for Helsinki

John O'Brien

We've been so distracted by the looming giant of the London Olympics that it's been easy to forget that the European Athletics Championships begin in 10 days' time in Helsinki. Given the timing, it's open to question whether some of our top athletes even make the journey but the importance of the championships is indisputable. As a measure of our worth, Europe remains our best touchstone.

It also gives us our first real glimpse into the mindset of Kevin Ankrom, the high-performance director appointed by Athletics Ireland last year. While the OCI dictate Olympic qualifying standards, Athletics Ireland set the standards for other championships and eyebrows were raised late last year when the times required for Irish athletes were even faster than those laid down by the European federation.

There are two schools of thought here. Either Ankrom is a tough and visionary coach, demanding high standards, or he is a clever bureaucrat who is too much talk and far too little action. What we do know is that when the five-man selection committee meets today to finalise the team for Helsinki, they have a number of borderline decisions to make.

Watch this space.

ssport@independent.ie

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