Athletics: O'Rourke gets back on track with solid display
Derval O'Rourke made an encouraging start to the new season when she finished a close second in the final of the women's 60m hurdles at the Gugl Indoor meeting in Linz, Austria, last night.
O'Rourke, running her first race in over five months, clocked 8.16 seconds and will be relieved that her time was well inside the European Indoor Championships qualifying standard of 8.20.
In the end she lost out to the American Yvette Lewis, who won in 8.11. With this first competition under her belt, the 29-year-old Corkwoman will begin her drive to be sharper and more finely tuned for the European Indoor Championships in Paris, just like she did for the European Outdoors in Barcelona last summer when she set her sixth Irish record in winning the silver medal in the 100m hurdles in 12.65.
It normally takes O'Rourke a few races to get herself to near peak fitness. When she won the bronze medal in the Euro Indoors two years ago in 7.97, her best time going into the event was 8.05.
O'Rourke's friend, training companion and fellow Cork athlete Ailis McSweeney scored an excellent victory in the 60m, winning in 7.39 seconds, just short of her best.
Meanwhile, Fionnuala Britton is continuing her efforts to make it to the starting line for the European Indoors in Paris next month.
On her journey back from South Africa, she took in the Celtic Cup indoor meeting in Cardiff last Sunday and won the 1,500m in 4:21.85.
That immediately inspired her to look for better competition over a distance more to her liking and she has managed to get into the 3,000m at the Sparkassen Cup Indoor Classic in Stuttgart tomorrow night.
The 26-year-old DCU honours graduate will know an awful lot more about where she stands as regards Paris after this test against a field that includes five Africans.
Britton has experienced a few difficulties over the last two years, but after some hard work she seems to have rediscovered the type of form that saw her win a silver medal in the European U-23 cross-country and finish 13th in the senior World Championships.
Among Britton's targets tomorrow will be to get inside the Euro Indoor standard of exactly 9:00.00. She will then decide whether to run in the Euro Indoors or the World cross-country or, perhaps, both.
Already this week two athletes beat the standards, with Brian Gregan of Clonliffe running 46.89 in the 400m and Darren McBrearty of Letterkenny clocking 1:47.87 for the 800m when winning their events in Vienna.
Irish team manager Patsy McGonagle is still awaiting word from David Gillick as regards his intentions about running in Paris. Gillick is unlikely to make up his mind until he has at least one race under his belt.