Thursday 22 February 2018

Athletics: Reynolds and Robinson lead wave of new track talent

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

EVENTS at Morton Stadium last weekend created genuine optimism about Ireland's next wave of talent, and more followed at the official re-opening of the Mary Peters track in Belfast.

Just two days after setting a Northern Ireland record (13.71) in Dublin, rising Down sprint hurdler Ben Reynolds (21) lowered it again, this time to a sensational 13.49 (+1.9 wind).

That overtook TJ Kearns (13.55) and Sean Cahill (13.66) on Ireland's all-time 110m list – only Peter Coghlan's national record of 13.30 is faster – and was just short of the World Championship 'A' standard (13.40).

Also making waves in Belfast was Kildare's Paul Robinson, who ran a personal best of 3:37.66 to finish second to Australia's Collis Birmingham (3:37.18) in Belfast.

The 22 year-old from St Coca's AC missed out on Santry because he was abroad for altitude training.

"With the European U-23s my big goal this summer, I'd done a lot of racing in May and we (himself and coach Robert Dunmead) had to get in some altitude training," Robinson explained.

Having Nic Bideau as his manager means Robinson has spent his pre-season for the last two years in Australia, where he trained alongside Birmingham and Ryan Gregson.


Robinson has another year left in DCU and has no complaints about the strain on his time and resources.

"I put all my AAI grant and any money I have to fund my training, I'm just doing what everyone else does and you have to do whatever it takes," he stressed.

After finishing seventh in a race in Sweden last night, in 3:40.13, Robinson's next outing will be the Cork City Sports next Tuesday.

Then his focus will firmly be on the European U-23 Championships in Finland (July 11-14) in an event that includes reigning European senior champion Henrik Ingebrigtsen.

Many of those who starred on their senior international debut will be in action again in this weekend's Woodies DIY National U-23 and Junior (U-20) Championships in Tullamore and then in Cork IT next Tuesday.

Tomorrow's international race walking GP in the Phoenix Park (incorporating the national 20km championships) will also feature most of Ireland's top walkers, though Rob Heffernan and Brendan Boyce will be absent as they are abroad training.

Meanwhile, Brian Gregan's excellent form continued last night when the Dubliner made his first step into world-class competition outdoors and finished fourth behind Olympic 400m champion Kirani James in Ostrava. Gregan's time of 45.55 was just two hundredths of a second outside his PB.

Irish Independent

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