Monday 20 May 2019

Athletics: AAI likely to speed up selection call

Cliona Foley

ATHLETICS Ireland are willing to bring forward the Olympic selection date for the marathon, but say they cannot do so until everyone who is attempting to qualify has had their chance.

There are four women already qualified, but only three places are available and those who already have the standard pleaded earlier this week for the selection date (June 12) to be brought forward to allow them finalise their training plans.

"Everyone would like to get this issue resolved as soon as possible, but there has to be some caution here," said AAI's high performance director Kevin Ankrom. "At least one other athlete is still trying to get the time and we want to ensure our selection process is as transparent and pragmatic as possible."

Ankrom said June 12 was initially picked because that marked the date of the last qualifying events (marathons). But he indicated that there is a willingness within Athletics Ireland to bring forward the selection date once all prospective qualifiers have raced.


With Raheny's Barbara Sanchez running in Copenhagen on May 20, it looks likely that the decision will be made soon after that date.

Elsewhere, quarter-miler Joanne Cuddihy has just become the 17th Irish athlete to qualify for London after clocking 51.45 seconds in the Shizuoka International in Japan. The impressive early-season run was Cuddihy's fifth fastest 400m time ever and puts her eighth on the current world rankings.

Cuddihy (27) set the 50.73 Irish record in the semi-finals of the 2007 World Championships and is back in top form in the last two years after a series of career-threatening injuries.

She has based herself in Australia in recent winters, where she has combined part-time work as a medical doctor while training with coach Tudor Bidden at the prestigious Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.

Cuddihy was working two 10-hour A&E shifts a week up to the end of last month, but has been training full-time since and is unbeaten all season.

The IAAF softened the women's 400m 'A' Olympic standard from 51.50 to 51.55 last winter but Cuddihy, despite wet conditions, was well inside the original standard and competes in Kawasaki again on Sunday.

She anchored Ireland's record-breaking 4x400m team last summer and will be a key member of their prospective Olympic relay squad this summer. The top 12 in the world -- based on an aggregate of two runs -- will make the cut for London and Ireland are currently ranked 12th.

Ankrom is keen for them to shave another second off their time to try to copper-fasten their Olympic place and has recruited Sanura O'Reilly to be part of that bid. She was born in Dublin, but moved to America as an infant and is now a University of Southern California student with a sub-54 second personal best.

Elsewhere, Mark English (Letterkenny) clinched qualification for the World Juniors in midweek after winning a BMC 800m in 1:48.19.

Irish Independent

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