Mark English has qualified for his second successive Olympics after breaking the 26-year-old Irish 800m record in Barcelona this evening.
The Donegal athlete (28), who won bronze over the distance in the European Championships in Zurich in 2014, clocked a time of 1:44.70 in Spain this evening, finishing second behind Algerian Yassine Hethat.
The time is good enough to automatically qualify English for Tokyo, completely eclipsing the required 1:45.20 just hours before the deadline passed.
In doing so, English shaved 0.11 off the long-standing Irish record held by two-time Olympian David Matthews, who ran 1:44.82 in Rieti in September 1995.
Congrats @markenglish_ on your New 800mtrs record????. I borrowed it off Marcus O'Sullivan 26years ago,he borrowed it from Niall O’Shaughnessy....Noel Carroll & Ronnie Delany & that’s the last 70yrs of 800mtrs in ????it gave me great pride and many opportunities.??— David Matthews (@DavidMatthews2) June 29, 2021
English's own best previous time at 800m was 1:44.84, recorded in London back in 2013.
In Rio, English progressed from his heat but missed out on the final after finishing fifth in his semi-final in a time of 1:45.93.
There was another meeting in Lucerne with Irish athletes looking to post fast times, and it was a good day for Eilish Flanagan who finished second in the 3,000m steeplechase in a time of 9:42.71.
Thomas Barr won the 400m hurdles in a time of 49.12secs, while Chris O'Donnell was second in the 400m in a personal best time of 45.55. O'Donnell impressed, especially in the final 100 metres to come in after world record holder and reigning Olympic champion Wayde van Niekerk.
Sarah Lavin also finished second in her event, the 100m hurdles, recording a time of 13.16secs, while Andrew Coscoran had to settle for eighth place in the 1,500m in a time of 3:43.15.
Louise Shanahan was fifth in the 800m, running 2:03.05, with Simone Lalor (2:09.67) finishing ninth in the same race.
Markus Lawler was eighth in the 200m, while Brian Fay ran a personal best 13:44.37 in the 5,000m.