Friday 23 February 2018

Athletics: Gillick will run in relay in bid to get to London standard

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

TWO-TIME European indoor champion David Gillick will anchor the Irish men's 4x400 relay team at next week's European Championships in Helsinki.

His inclusion caused some surprise, considering the DSD star is only just back racing after an 18-month lay-off with a recurring calf injury and is still chasing the all-important Olympic 400m qualifying time.

His injury setbacks meant Gillick had not qualified individually for the Europeans and, with July 8 the Olympic qualification deadline, he is fast running out of racing opportunities.

But Athletics Ireland believe that running a relay leg next week will help him get up to speed and it also serves a mutual purpose for the Irish team.

furore

There was a furore at the last European Championships when Gillick, after failing to medal in the 400m final, did not line out for the relay team next morning.

But he was not asked beforehand, and has always maintained that he would have run 4x400m in Barcelona if he had been asked in time.

This is the first time the European Championships, which have just become biennial, will be staged ahead of an Olympics.

Ireland's team does not include Derval O'Rourke, Deirdre Ryan, Alistair Cragg or Ciaran O'Lionaird (all concentrating on London), with Cragg reportedly in the process of changing coaches at present.

But it does include a serious European 10,000m medal prospect in Fionnuala Britton (Kilcoole) and five other individuals already qualified for London (Paul Hession, Joanne Cuddihy, Stephanie Reilly, Mark Kenneally and Tori Pena), plus the women's 4x400m team, who are well placed to do so.

It also includes several more sprinters -- double Paralympic champion Jason Smyth, Steven Colvert, Brian Gregan and Ferrybank's 400m hurdles siblings Jessie and Tomas Barr -- hoping to use the Europeans to clinch that elusive Olympic A standard.

Irish Independent

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