Sunday 19 November 2017

Gay out to lay marker for Bolt showdown


Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

USAIN BOLT'S 19.86 seconds 200m fireworks in the rain in Oslo indicated that there should be an interesting showdown between himself and Tyson Gay at the World Championships this summer.

But it will only be at 100m, as Gay has already indicated he won't run the longer distance in Osaka.

The American has already posted the fastest 100m this year (9.79 seconds) so all eyes will be on himself and his Jamaican training partner Steve Mullings (9.80 this summer) at the Golden League meeting in New York tonight, where Ireland's Jason Smyth will also be toeing the line.

Smyth, the double Paralympic champion from Eglington, outside Derry, reached the European semi-finals last year and has already set a new personal best of 10.22 seconds this year and his best hope is to better that amid a world-class field of sprinters.

Both Smyth and David Gillick are training with Gay now in Florida and the Dundrum South Dublin 400m star, sixth in the 2009 World Championships, had a groin injury which cost him some training this year.

Gillick opened his season with a pedestrian 46.80 secs run in a low-key local event last week, so his performance in Randalls Island will tell a lot more about his form.

The New York 400m field is a stellar one, including the likes of Jeremy Wariner, Renny Quow and Chris Brown as well as the top two from last summer's European championships -- Belgium's Kevin Borlee and Britain's Michael Bingham -- where Gillick took fifth.

The 400m field also features South African Paralympian Oscar Pistorius, known as the 'Bladerunner' because of his prosthesis.

Another Irish athlete to watch for in the Big Apple meeting is Wicklow steeplechaser Fionnuala Britton. She was 16th at the World Cross Countries this year and was very unlucky to miss out on a medal when fourth at the European equivalent last December. She also knocked over 13 seconds off her 5,000m personal best when running 15:31:26 in Hengelo last month.

It will be interesting to see if that improvement translates into Britton's first run over the barriers this year in a race in which Russia's world record holder Gulnara Samitova-Galkina is also opening her steeplechase season.

Elsewhere in America, Finn Valley pole-vaulter Tori Pena edged closer to the World Championship qualifying mark (4.40m) by improving her Irish record again to 4.34m in her final competition before next weekend's European Team Championships.

And another of the team for Turkey, Leevale's Ciaran O'Lionaird, will be racing in the 5,000m final in the prestigious NCAA US Colleges Championships in Des Moines today, where the schedule has already been hit by lightning storms.

Irish Independent

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