Athletics: O'Rourke driven by powers of recovery
DERVAL O'Rourke happily admits she'll be "rusty as hell" at this weekend's Woodies DIY Irish Indoor Championships in Belfast after only running hurdles this week for the first time in four months.
Two weeks ago O'Rourke wasn't even sure if she would be able to compete because of a torn calf muscle which kept her from running for a full 21 days last month.
But having suffered so much from injuries in recent seasons, Leevale's 2006 world indoor champion is taking every opportunity that comes her way and is sticking to her plan to race in next month's World Indoors.
And her stunning comeback last year demonstrated her remarkable powers of recovery. Six weeks after a serious groin tear, she finished fourth in the World Championships in a new Irish record.
"When I get a diagnosis and stop training, I heal really quickly," O'Rourke explained. "I think I'll be fine on Sunday because I stayed so fit. I couldn't hurdle for the whole month of January but I was in the gym six days a week."
While a trapped nerve has forced world silver medallist Olive Loughnane to pull out, Ireland's top men's walkers Rob Heffernan, Jamie Costin and Colin Griffin will be the first in action tomorrow in the men's 5km walk (4.15).
Eyebrows have been raised that former Olympic silver medallist Francisco Fernandez is also included as a 'guest', considering his home was one of those raided by police during an anti-doping investigation in Spain last November, which is still ongoing.
Fernandez has regularly raced in Ireland, but when he applied to compete this time, the Athletics Association of Ireland (AAI) immediately sought clarification on his status from the Spanish federation.
AAI President Liam Hennessy said yesterday that he spoke directly to Spanish athletic's director general Jose Luis de Carlos (who is also vice-president of the European Athletics Association) and while Hennessy would not elaborate, AAI were obviously satisfied with the reply. Paul Hession's appearance in the 60m will be one of his few indoors this season as he's concentrating all his energies on next summer's European Championships.
And though world 400m finalist David Gillick is absent, the men's 400m should still be very competitive, led by national champion Brian Gregan.
Down schoolgirl star Ciara Mageean is definitely racing the 800m and could yet double up in the 1500m.
James McElroy, who recently came out of retirement, is entered in the 800m where David McCarthy (Le Cheile) will throw down the gauntlet after running 1:48.29 in Vienna midweek, a time which earned him a place at the World Indoors.
And in the in-field, Kelly Proper and Deirdre Ryan will lead Ireland's talented current bunch of long and high jumpers.
Elsewhere Clonliffe, as national senior and junior champions, will represent Ireland at the European Club Cross-Countries in Bilbao on Sunday where they will be led by Mark Kenneally.
National Indoors highlights
RTE 2, Monday 7.0