Rising crop of hurdlers give injured Derval some comfort
SHE may be about to miss a major championship meet for the first time in 12 years through injury, but Derval O'Rourke is heartened by the form of Ireland's young guns ahead of next month's World Championship mission to Moscow.
The Leevale star visited German medic Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt last week to try to solve the Achilles/heel problem that has forced her out of this weekend's Woodies DIY National Championships and the Worlds, but he was unable sort out the problem.
She has continued to cross-train and hopes all the work she has put in will stand to her for next year's indoor season.
It is the first summer since 2001 that the Leevale superstar will miss a 'major,' but, on a brighter note, she has been delighted with the achievements of the younger generation.
There may not have been as many medals as the AAI had hoped for, but O'Rourke believes the number of fourth places achieved internationally in the past fortnight was significant.
"You cannot underestimate what fourth place does for people," she said. "It can either be incredibly soul-destroying or incredibly motivating and I believe it will make some of them really hungry. To see so many finalists this summer was really encouraging."
She is particularly delighted by the rising quality and depth in Irish sprint hurdling, led by European junior silver medallist Sarah Lavin, one of the big attractions in Santry this weekend.
"Sarah's junior record (13.34) is phenomenal and the great thing is that you now have young girls coming behind her like Elizabeth Morland and Molly Scott. It's really very exciting to see how they will all develop," O'Rourke said.
Duelling 400m hurdlers Tomas Barr and Jason Harvey should certainly provide some fireworks at the Nationals, though 100m hurdler Ben Reynolds is out injured.
Apart from national titles, the championships offer the last World Championship qualifying opportunities before Monday's deadline and Kilcock's Paul Robinson is one of those who is agonisingly close.
His 1:45.86 is a 'B' standard, but Mark English's 1:45:32 (two hundredths off the 'A' standard) is faster, which means that, right now, the Donegal man would get the only 'B' standard slot at 800m.
Yet things could alter radically in the next 72 hours.
English, who is running the 400m at Santry, races in the 800m at tonight's Diamond League in London (at 9.33) and if he clinches an 'A' standard there, Robinson could fill the 'B' slot. The St Coca's runner also has a chance to improve his own 800m time in Santry and may also try to achieve the standard at 1500m where he has come so close (just .66 off the 3:37.00 'B' mark).
Brian Gregan already has the 'B' standard at 400m, which is why he's racing at 200m.
Tori Pena ('A' standard in pole vault) and 'B' standards for Newbridge's Roseanne Galligan and DSD's Jennifer Carey at 800m and 400m, respectively, means they should all be on the plane to Moscow.
But Tomas and Jessie Barr, Steven Colvert and Marcus Lawler are among the sprinters still needing just fractional improvements, while getting an 800m place in the tonight's meeting in London (at 8.56) should help Kerry's Laura Crowe lower her 2:02.63 personal best.
DSD's Maria Cambridge is racing at 5000m at the Nationals, but is among the five athletes and walkers already pre-selected for Moscow in the marathon distances.
Action in Santry starts at 12.20 (women's 400 hurdles, hammer, pole vault) tomorrow and 11.30 on Sunday.