Wednesday 17 January 2018

Barr leads record team to Amsterdam

Ireland captain: Thomas Barr. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Ireland captain: Thomas Barr. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Cathal Dennehy

Thomas Barr will lead a 52-strong Irish team at next week's European Championships in Amsterdam - the largest contingent Athletics Ireland has ever sent to the event.

The record-breaking size of the team is due in large part to the association backtracking on their original selection criteria, choosing to send several athletes who achieved only one B-standard despite the original policy stipulating that they needed two.

Barr was one of those to achieve the A-standard in his event, and the 23-year-old impressed on his return to action last weekend after months of injury, taking victory in the 400m hurdles at the national championships in 50.28.

"I improved a lot over the weekend and I need races to get back to my best," said Barr, who reached the semi-final at the last edition in 2014.

"I'll be looking to step up another level."

Mark English has chosen to bypass the championships as he continues his return to full fitness ahead of the Olympic Games.

After taking victory in the national championships in Santry on Sunday, Ciara Mageean will now make her long-awaited return to international competition in the 1500m in Amsterdam.

"It's been a long time coming," said Mageean. "I haven't had a proper championships since my junior career, so this is ground zero for me.

"Each race will be like a final for me, but I plan to be smart, get through the rounds, and once I'm in the final it's anyone's game."

There are several developing athletes in the team such as 800m runner Síofra Cléirigh Buttner and 200m runner Marcus Lawler, while Mary Cullen makes her return to international competition in the 5,000m.

Fionnuala McCormack will compete over 10,000m.

Ireland will also have teams in all four relay events for the first time at the championships.

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