Tuesday 20 March 2018

Gillick expects Healy to raise game after Birmingham

David Gillick. Photo: Sportsfile
David Gillick. Photo: Sportsfile

Cathal Dennehy

As a man who knows his fair share about indoor athletics, David Gillick is well placed to offer an opinion on the Irish performances in Birmingham last weekend, and the two-time European indoor champion's judgement is as accurate as it is succinct.

"Overall," he said, "not great."

Gillick was due to be in Birmingham on behalf of RTé, but the 34-year-old had to watch the World Indoor Championships from afar as Storm Emma brought Dublin Airport to a standstill.

By the time operations had resumed last Saturday, the Irish interest was all but over - a sign of how far off the top level they were.

The one exception was Phil Healy, who became the first Irish athlete since 2010 to advance past the opening round at World Indoor level, the 23-year-old clocking 52.75 in her heat to finish third, then 53.26 in the semi-final to bow out later that night.

"Aside from her, there isn't a whole lot to shout about," said Gillick, a world indoor 400m finalist in 2010.

"Phil Healy was the leading light. She had a decent championships and with the indoor season she had, a semi-final was always within her grasp. A final would have been a big ask, but the way she ran was impressive - confidently, aggressively."


As the focus switches outdoors, Gillick believes Healy is primed to make an impact at the European Championships in Berlin in August. "The key thing is taking stock of where she's at, doing the plan and making sure she gets it right for the summer," he said. "Her indoor season will get her into decent races and that's key for building confidence - competing against top-class athletes. She's going to get stronger. I'd love to see her times come down and I think they will.

"Overall, it wasn't great championships but we need to build on it. It's a big year for Irish athletes and we need to get as many as we can qualified for the European Championships."

In the wake of more than 20 disqualifications at the event, Gillick called on the sport's authorities to change the rules governing lane infringements, which currently dictate that any athlete to place any part of their foot on the inner line around a bend is disqualified.

"When you have such a high number (of disqualifications), something's not right. I don't want to be harsh on the judges, they are only doing their job, but there has to be a way to appeal it with a bit of common sense." David Gillick was speaking at the launch of the 2018 VHI Women's Mini Marathon, which takes place on Sunday, June 3.

Irish Independent

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