Thursday 18 January 2018

Athletics: AAI lower bar for Worlds hopefuls

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

THERE was huge controversy when 'B' qualification standards were not accepted for last summer's Olympics, but they have been accepted by Athletics Ireland for the World Championships in Moscow from August 10-18.

Of the 11 athletes selected yesterday only five – and only one track runner (Mark English) – has the 'A' standard.

Some of the qualification standards for Russia are higher than those set for the Olympics, which is one of the reasons why the AAI are accepting the 'B' marks.

But they are also not bound by the strict 'A-standard only' policy that was part of their written agreement with the Olympic Council of Ireland for London 2012.

There was a lot of controversy when rising stars like English and Brian Gregan, who both came agonisingly close to Olympic 'A' standards and were clearly in top form last summer, were still not selected for the London Games.

But Gregan, like five others, gets his chance on the global stage now despite his 45.53 season-best being just short of the 400m 'A' standard of 45:28.

English only got the 800m 'A' standard at last Friday night's Diamond League meeting in London when he came within two hundredths of a second of breaking the 18-year-old Irish record (1:44.82).

And, though Newbridge's Rose-Anne Galligan broke Sonia O'Sullivan's 19-year-old national women's 800m record with her 2:00.58 run at that same event, it was still short of the 'A' standard (2:00).

The only athletes to have achieved 'A' standards are English, pole-vaulter Tori Pena and race walkers Robert Heffernan, Brendan Boyce and Laura Reynolds.

With only one 'B' athlete allowed per event, English's 'A' standard cleared the way for Kildare's Paul Robinson to go on the 800m 'B' standard.

With illness and injury ruling out Fionnuala Britton, Derval O'Rourke and Ciaran O'Lionaird, it is a relatively inexperienced Irish team and uniquely contains three Donegal representatives.

English is on scholarship at, and running for, UCD where he is studying physiotherapy but is a product of Letterkenny AC, which is also Brendan Boyce's club. Pole-vaulter Pena competes for neighbouring Donegal club Finn Valley in Stranorlar, though she is American-born and based.

Irish team for 2013 World T&F Championships – Men:

Brian Gregan (Clonliffe) 400m; Mark English (UCD) 800m; Paul Robinson (St Cocas) 800m; Robert Heffernan (Togher) and Brendan Boyce (Letterkenny) 50km walk; Paul Pollock (Annadale) Marathon. Women: Jennifer Carey (DSD) 400m; Rose-Anne Galligan (Newbridge) 800m; Tori Pena (Finn Valley) Pole Vault; Laura Reynolds ( Mohill) 20km walk; Maria McCambridge (DSD) Marathon.

Irish Independent

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