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In brief: Morrison boosts Olympic hopes

Irish triathlete Aileen Morrison has demonstrated her potential ahead of the London Olympics by winning the ETU European Cup in Turkey.

The Derry athlete led the swim and was among the lead group on the bike and she finished particularly strongly, outkicking Slovakia's Mateja Simic in a neck-and-neck battle over the last two kilometres of the run.

The next race on Morrison's calendar is the ITU World Cup event in Ishigaki, Japan, on April 17 which is scheduled to go ahead despite the recent earthquake disaster. Morrison's result in Turkey places her 21st overall in the ITU standings, which determine qualification at London 2012.


European and Commonwealth light-flyweight champ Paddy Barnes has pulled out of the Irish Elite squad for the Feliks Stamm Multi-Nations, which begin in Warsaw today. The 2008 Olympic bronze medalist has the 'flu.

AIBA World Youth champion Joe Ward, European silver medalist and EU champion Darren O'Neill, World bronze medalist John Joe Nevin, EU champ Con Sheehan, Michael McDonagh and Cathal McMonagle will compete in Warsaw.

All six claimed titles at the 2011 National Elite Championships in Dublin in February. Meanwhile, Ken Egan has been named in a seven-strong squad for the Gee Bee Multi-Nations, which begin in Helsinki on Thursday.


World No 4 Andy Murray has been handed a wildcard to compete in the Monte Carlo Masters this month. The Scot has decided to play in Monte Carlo to get an early taste of clay court action ahead of May's French Open.

Meanwhile, the necessity to play an unfinished match a few hours earlier proved too much for Conor Niland in the third and final round of qualifying in the top-tier ATP World Tour event in Casablanca, Morocco.

Due to rain, No 3 seed Niland's second-round battle in the clay court tournament against Daniel Smethurst was deferred on Sunday, with the unseeded Briton leading by one set. The Irish No 1 stormed back to win on a 6-7 (2-7) 6-4 6-3 scoreline yesterday morning. But then in the afternoon 139-ranked Niland had to face unseeded Andrey Kuznetsov, and the Russian needed only 51 minutes to defeat the Limerick man 6-2 6-0.


Two of Ireland's top young swimmers, Shani Stallard and Peter Clarke, both had successful campaigns over the weekend at the Spanish National Championships in Madrid. Stallard (17) achieved the qualification mark for this summer's World Junior Swimming Championships (200m breaststroke), while 17-year-old Clarke went inside the 200m breaststroke standard for the European Junior Championships in July.

Irish Independent