WITH the World Indoors in Doha just four weeks away, Irish medal hopes booked their places on the team with fine performances at the Woodie's DIY Irish Indoors in Belfast.
Star of the show was Claire Brady of Celbridge, who won the 60m, beating Ailis McSweeney and Niamh Whelan. Brady, with a powerful start, had improved her personal best to 7.43 in the heats and then ran an even faster time of 7.35 in the final.
Following her recovery from a stress fracture, Brady had chipped away at her 60m time over the past few weeks. At the AAI Games in Nenagh, she ran 7.55 to finish second behind Amy Foster.
In London, a week before the national indoors, she improved that time to 7.48. Anna Boyle's Irish record of 7.30 is surely under threat. Ferrybank long jumper Kelly Proper returned to hard training after her magnificent 6.62 in Turin a few weeks ago. In Belfast she jumped 6.35 to claim a fifth long jump title and also won the 200m. Next up are AAA Championships in Sheffield and then the Grand Prix in Birmingham on February 20.
Derval O'Rourke also showed that she is recovering nicely from a calf strain when she won the 60m hurdles for the 10th time.
Lisburn's Kelly McNiece has never done much indoors but this year decided to try for the Doha qualifying time. With the help of training partner Deirdre Byrne she ran a new championship record of 4:14.63 when winning the 1,500m and now joins Byrne on the World Championship team. With David Gillick still undecided about competing, the only man selected for the the 800m is David McCarthy.
Opting out is race walker Robert Heffernan, who is training for his debut 50k at the end of March, and sprinter Paul Hession.
Making a welcome return to competition was Kilkenny's Adrian O'Dwyer, who has had mixed fortunes since qualifying for the high jump at the 2004 Olympics. O'Dwyer jumped an encouraging 2.10 to share second place with Kourosh Foroughi. Jumping 2.15 for victory was Barry Pender.
Kieran Kelly of Fr Murphy's AC was a surprise entry for the men's shot. On Monday the England-based athlete was provisionally suspended by UK Athletics for failing to take a drugs test at Loughborough last month.