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English studies may be put on hold for Rio

MARK English had to use all of his physical talent and mental acuity to win his second European medal on Sunday and he is going to have to make some tough decisions, off the track, in the coming six months.

The 21-year-old Letterkenny star, fresh from adding Euro 800m indoor silver to the bronze medal he won outdoors last summer, has managed to already excel in athletics while juggling the exceptional heavy work-load of a third-year medical student. So far he has been successful by concentrating on his UCD studies during the day and doing a lot of his training in the evening. With no track at Belfield any longer and the next nearest - Irishtown - currently closed for repairs, he has to travel across the city to Santry to do some of it.

He is part of UCD's Ad Astra scholarship scheme which gives special support to the college's high academic and sporting achievers, but moving into fourth-year medicine next September will change his workload substantially because it will include mandatory work placements.

English is expected to put his medical studies on hold - either partially or completely - next season to concentrate all his energies on training for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

"I won't be able to do a summer placement with the Olympics, that's not going to work, but I might do some modules in the first semester because I like to be busy," he said recently. "It gives me a bit of routine and helps me do the other things in life."

Last night he stressed that "they were just some thoughts that I had, but I haven't decided yet at all. I'll really just have to see how things are going at the end of this summer. I genuinely don't know yet what I'm going to do and I won't know until the end of the summer."

English returned from Prague last night to a rare two-week break from study and training because it is the college half-term.

After that brief respite, he will be straight back at his books and training for what will be a hectic outdoor season.

Irish Independent