Monday 20 May 2019

Mark English's record hopes dashed by hamstring injury

Mark English's bid to break the Irish 800m record looks set to have to wait until next year. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Mark English's bid to break the Irish 800m record looks set to have to wait until next year. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Cliona Foley

MARK English’s bid to break the Irish 800m record looks set to have to wait until next year.

Ireland’s newest European medallist had hoped to lower David Matthews’ 19-year-old mark of 1:44.82 in the IAAF Challenge meeting in Italy on Sunday but has pulled out of it, as the hamstring injury that he incurred at the European Championships has still not fully recovered.

It could yet also end his opportunity to represent Europe at the Intercontinental Cup in Marrakech in a week’s time.

English was the only Irish athlete selected to represent Europe at that prestigious event, which only takes place every four years and pits the best athletes from four continents against each another.

Each continent can have two athletes in each event, and Poland’s 800m European champion Adam Kszczot and English were set to be team-mates in Morocco. But the hamstring that the UCD star damaged when helping Ireland’s 4x400m team to smash the national record and take fifth in the European relay final could yet force him out of that also.

The rangy Donegal athlete, who won European bronze three weeks ago, went abroad for a break afterwards, and is still out of the country, but he has continued training while rehabbing the injury.

He pulled out of the prestigious Diamond League meeting in Zurich  in order to give it more time to recover.

English always said he had two big targets in 2014: to win a European medal and to break Matthews’ record.

He came agonisingly close to it – two hundredths of a second – when he ran 1:44:84 in the Diamond League in the Olympic Stadium in London in July.

Rieti is a particularly fast track and it was there that English ran the second fastest time of his career, 1:44:89 a year ago.

It is also the track and meeting where Matthews set his Irish record in 1995.

The opportunity to go back there and break it looked like Kismet for the 21-year-old from Letterkenny but it now looks, for the first time this season, that the clock is going to beat him.

Elsewhere, DSD’s young middle-distance star Siofra Cleirigh Buttner has followed in the footsteps of Sonia O’Sullivan and taken up a scholarship at Villanova University in America.

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