Saturday 26 May 2018

Barr heads star-studded Santry field

Thomas Barr is hoping to put his injury problems behind him
Thomas Barr is hoping to put his injury problems behind him

Lindie Naughton

Thomas Barr heads a strong entry for the Glo Health National Track and Field Championships at Morton Stadium in Santry.

Barr, who is bidding for a fifth 400m hurdles title, is one of a number of athletes using the championships as a final blow-out before the World Championships, which get underway in Beijing on August 22.

Since winning gold at the World University Games last month, Barr had struggled with a chronic hip injury, which led to a poor run at the recent London Anniversary Games.

"It's sore but getting better as I train. It's when I offload from training that it can flare up - like after the two days it took to get home from Korea," explained Barr, who is ranked tenth in the world thanks to his Irish record of 48.65 set at the Diamond League in Rome.

Also running the 400m hurdles is Barr's training partner Paul Byrne of St Abban's.

In the 800m, Mark English, another athlete heading for Beijing, faces a stiff challenge from his UCD team-mate Karl Griffin and from Clonliffe's Declan Murray.

English has had a roller coaster season, showing poor form at the European U-23s but then clocking a season's best 1:45.69 at the London Anniversary Games - inside the Rio 2016 qualifying standard.

The steadily improving Griffin had a brilliant win at the Morton Games after finishing sixth at the European U-23s, but may opt to concentrate on the 400m this weekend. Murray ran a time of 1:47.28 last June in the USA.

Three walkers - Robert Heffernan of Togher, Leevale's Alex Wright and Brendan Boyce of Letterkenny - have all qualified for the 50km in Beijing, where Heffernan is the defending champion. They compete in tomorrow's 10,000m walk.

Two other athletes certain of their places on World Championships team are steeplechasers Kerry O'Flaherty from Newcastle and Leevale's Michelle Finn.

Not quite so certain is Sara Treacy of Dunboyne who, like the other two, qualified for the Rio Olympics on a memorable night in Letterkenny a month ago.


The good news is that Treacy, who was just 14 hundredths of a second outside the Beijing qualifying mark that night in Donegal, could still make the cut, with the final decision coming next Monday.

In the meantime, she will run the steeplechase in Santry today. O'Flaherty is opting for the 1500m and Finn the 5,000m.

Also likely to make Beijing under the quota system and running at the weekend are Ciara Mageean (UCD, 1500m), Ciara Everard (UCD, 800m), Kelly Proper (Ferrybank, 200m) and 110m hurdler Ben Reynolds (North Down).

In the 400m, places on the 4x400m relay squad for Beijing are at stake. Clonliffe's Brian Gregan is the form man, with a season's best of 45.85 secs.

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