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Top athletes prepare for National Championships in Morton Stadium

Updated: Thursday, 05 Jul 2012 16:06 | Comments

Derval O'Rourke will compete in the 100m hurdles
Derval O'Rourke will compete in the 100m hurdles

Many of Ireland’s top athletes, who are bound for the London Olympics, will be in action this weekend at the Woodie’s DIY Senior Track and Field Championships in Morton Stadium, Santry.

Irish 100m hurdles record holder Derval O’Rourke (Leevale AC) will be bidding for an impressive tenth national title.

In the men’s 100m, Irish record holder Paul Hession (Athenry AC) will face tough opposition from training partner Steven Colvert (Crusaders AC) who set a new under-23 record this year of 10.35 seconds.

They will have to contend with reigning national champion Jason Smyth (City of Derry) who has a season’s best of 10.24.

Colvert will likely have it all his own way in the 200m with Hession competing over 100m only.

Colvert is ranked number one this year running 20.57 to set a new Irish U23 record.

Steven Colvert

In the women’s 100m reigning champion and current number one on the ranking list Amy Foster (City of Lisburn AC) will be race favourite.

Foster will have to get the better of Joanne Cuddihy (KCH) to secure the sprint double achieved in 2011.

Cuddihy is ranked number one this season with a time of 23.64 over the 200m.

The Irish 400m record holder Cuddihy will also be the clear favourite in the women’s 400m.

There will be a real battle between the rest of the women’s 4x400m squad, Marian Heffernan (Togher AC), Michelle Carey (Dublin Striders AC) and Catriona Cuddihy (KCH). Jessie Barr (Ferrybank AC) will line up in the 400m hurdles only.

In the men’s 400m the 2011 champion Brian Murphy (Crusaders AC) will be race favourite, with Irish record holder David Gillick (Dundrum South Dublin AC) calling an end to his season, and Brian Gregan (Clonliffe Harriers AC) competing in Europe over the weekend in a bid to secure the Olympic Standard of 45.30.

The men’s 400m hurdles proved to be one of the highlight races of the 2011 championships. This year Thomas Barr (Ferrybank AC) will again be the clear race favourite.

Thomas Barr ran impressively at the recent European Championships finishing in fifth place in a season’s best of 50.22 in the semi-final, the second quickest time of his career behind the national junior record of 50.05, which he set at the National Championships last year.

Jessie Barr (Ferrybank AC), sister of Thomas, is set to dominate the women’s 400m hurdles.

Barr impressed in her senior debut at the European Championships to make the women’s 400m hurdles final after a brilliant run in her semi-final where she set a new personal best of 55.93.

The Waterford woman is hoping to race prior to the championships in an effort to secure the Olympic standard of 55.50.

In the distance events reigning European Cross Country Champion Fionnuala Britton (Kilcoole AC) headlines the women’s 1500m race.

Fionnuala Britton

Britton, who placed fourth in the 10000m at the European Championships, will test her speed against steeplechase specialist Stephanie Reilly (Sli Chulainn AC) and Orla Drumm (Doneen AC).

Defending champion Ciara Mageean (U.C.D AC) will not be lining up as she will be competing in Finland in an effort to secure the Olympic standard for the 1500m.

Irish junior record holder Mark English (Letterkenny AC) will race in Madrid en route to the World Junior Championships, leaving the door open for Irish Indoor Champion Brian Kelly (St Abbans AC) in the men’s 800m.

Darren McBrearty (Letterkenny AC), John Travers (Donore Harriers AC) and John Coughlan (M.S.B AC) will all battle it out for the men’s 1500m title.

Marathon specialist Maria McCambridge (Letterkenny AC) drops down in distance and will be the firm favourite to take the women’s 5000m.

While in the men’s 5000m Olympic-bound Alistair Cragg will be competing in America leaving the race wide open.

In the men’s 10000m David Campbell (UCD AC), the former national 800m champion, is set to go the distance and challenge for the national title against race favourite Brian Maher (Kilkenny City Harriers AC).

In the field events, Irish record holder Deirdre Ryan (DSD AC) will be in line for the women’s title hoping to improve on her seasons best of 1.83m in the run up to the Olympic Games.

Tori Pena (Finn Valley AC) will be the favourite in the women’s pole vault.

Pena set a new Irish pole vault record of 4.52m in April to gain selection for the European Track and Field Championships in Helsinki where she jumped 4.35m but failed to progress to the final round.

RTÉ Two will be showing an hour’s highlight programme on Sunday 8 July at 11.05pm.

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