In an intense day of competition at the Irish Life Health National Senior Championships in Santry, with many Olympic aspirations on the line, a number of athletes on the qualification 'bubble' considerably enhanced their chances of making the Irish team in Tokyo.
There are few stories more illustrative of how perilous the qualification system is than that of Andrew Coscoran, the fastest Irishman in over seven years at 1500m.
Currently just .66 of a second outside of the stringent Olympic standard, the 25-year-old from the Star of the Sea AC club in Meath needed to win his national title this weekend and then post another good performance at a meeting in Lucerne next Tuesday night to feel hopeful that he can cling on to a place inside the top 45 on the World Athletics’ Road to Tokyo rankings.
His victory over Clonliffe’s Cathal Doyle was a little more comfortable than the slender margin of half a metre at the line suggested in a tactical race - but the win achieved half of the task ahead of him before he steps on the place to Switzerland for Tuesday’s race on qualification deadline day.
Coscoran entered the weekend in 42nd position of the 45 who will qualify for one of the ‘blue riband’ events on the track and field programme in Tokyo.
20-year-old Sarah Healy looks like having no such qualification worries and her resounding 1500m victory in 4 minutes 15.08 seconds over Nadia Power has almost certainly guaranteed the double former European U18 champion a place at her first major outdoor senior track and field championships.
Power, who was a distant second behind Healy, opted not to take on the womens’ 800m – the event in which she is almost certain of running in Tokyo.
Three other athletes who all have hopes of qualifying went to the line in the two lap race, in which Leevale’s Louise Shanahan held off the hard-charging favourite Siofra Cleirigh Buttner, with Georgie Hartigan in 3rd spot.
A similarly tight finish in the mens 800m saw Kildare AC’s John Fitzsimons just getting up a stride before the line to edge out long time leader Luke McCann of UCD.
Thomas Barr of Ferrybank, who is already qualified for Tokyo, won his 9th national title in the 400m hurdles with ease, while Phil Healy’s brisk winning time of 52.33 seconds in blustery cool conditions, improves her chances of qualifying for the 400m at the Olympics
The Bandon athlete is in better position to qualify for the 200m in Tokyo - an event in which she may well participate in during Sunday’s final session of the national championships.
The 100m gold medals went to a pair of teenagers - Israel Olatunde who won the men's title in 10.49 seconds and Rhasidat Adeleke who took the women's title in a fast, but wind assisted, time of 11.29.
The outstanding performance in the distance events came from Olympic qualified Michelle Finn, who won the steeplechase in a championship record 9 minutes 36.94 seconds..
Brian Fay of Raheny won the men’s equivalent while Dundrum’s South Dublin’s Hiko Tonosa defeated Sean Tobin of Clonmel in a classic two-man duel in the men's 5000m.
There were also victories for Aoife Kilgallon (Sligo AC) in the women's 5000m while Kelly McGrory took the women's 400 hurdles.
In the field, and Sarah Buggy of St Abban’s and Adam McMullen of Crusaders took long jump titles while Niamh Fogarty of Raheny and Colin Quirke of Crusaders took the discus titles.