IN the latest chapter in what is fast becoming a track and field fairy tale, Letterkenny athlete Mark English set a Irish indoor record for the 800 metres this afternoon and thus secured his ticket to the World Championships in Poland.
English (20), running in the UCD AC colours, crossed the line in 1.46.82 for a new Irish Indoor 800m record in finishing second to Thijem Kupers (1.46.78) with Tir Chonaill’s Karl Griffen sixth in 1.49.82, also smashing his PB time.
His time was almost four tenths of a second better than the previous best time by an Irishman – Daniel Caulfield (1.47.21) in Boston back in 2001.
Going into 2014, Mark (20) had earmarked reaching the world indoor finals, in Poland in March, and the European outdoor finals in Zurich during the summer as his two main targets.
“That’s the qualifying standard out of the way and a national record to boot. It’s a job well done,” he said after the race.
“I can now look forward to running good times Stockholm and Birmingham over the next few weeks before concentrating my efforts on Poland,” he added.
The UCD student has made a conscious effort to give the indoor season ‘a proper go’ this year.
“I’m a bit too tall to be a good indoor runner but this year I’ve decided to give it a proper go as there’s no Worlds outdoors,” he said.
His first race of the year was at the Woodie’s DIY Athletics Ireland Open Indoor Games in AIT International Arena this afternoon.
“It’s a huge boost to get the standard out of the way. I’m usually very rusty for my first first few races but I felt really good out there today. Now I can focus on winning a few races as I was disappointed to lose the race today,” he said.
English was also full some in his praise of young Karl Griffen who broke through the 1.50 barrier.
“It’s good to see another Donegal man running well and I suppose it will help to keep me on my toes,” he said.
Mark English is under the expert tutelage of Letterkenny AC coach Teresa McDaid and two other members of her elite band of middle distance runners ran personal best times in Athlone yesterday.
Both Danny Mooney (3.43.45) and Conor Bradley (3.43.1) looked impressive in the 1,500m while Ruairi Finnegan ran 3.50 in the same race.
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LETTERKENNY athlete Mark English has just qualified for the men's 800 m semi-final at the Rio Olympics.