MARK English feels his preparations for Zurich getting better by the week.
The Letterkenny man ran a sensational season’s best in the Diamon League on Saturday in New York, with only the Olympic champion David Rudisha ahead of him in the 800m event.
English’s time, 1:45.03, was in line with his hopes and keeps the UCD AC athlete on his track as he steps up his bid for a medal at the forthcoming European Track and Field Championships in Zurich in August.
That only Rudisha beat him at the Ichan Stadium in a loaded field said much about where English is at.
“Very pleased,” English said afterwards.
“I’m improving race-to-race this season and it isn’t often you finish five metres behind the man himself. I got a good few scalps in there as well. For me, that’s what it was about today; I didn’t even look at the clock going through at the bell. I just kept my eye on Wesley Vázquez.”
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At the World Junior Championships in 2012, English finished fifth in the 800m final. Vázquez was fourth in Barcelona. Not only did English leave the Puerto Rican in his slipstream, but it was the overtaking of Duane Solomon and Marcin Lewandowski with his kick for home that stood out.
Solomon was fourth in the 2012 Olympic final and Lewandowski was the gold medal winner at the last European Championships.
With English finishing ahead of both Lewandowski and fellow-Polish athlete, Adam Kszczot, he is now regarded as medal material, but the Letterkenny man knows he has work to do.
He said: “It was nice to beat Solomon, but significant for me this season, because of the Europeans, was beating Lewandowski and Kszczot. They will be two main contenders for medals in Zurich. It’s a great confidence booster. It lets me know that I can beat them. The important thing for me now going forward is to put races back-to-back.
“It’s great to run fast times, but I think, how fresh I’m feeling after races these days is a good indication of being able to put races back-to-back. Hopefully I can do that in Zurich. That’s the key really. It’s not just about running a once-off fast time, so hopefully I can go to Zurich and put two back-to-back.”
English revealed how he had put a lot of work into his aerobic endurance in recent months and it paid off in New York. He said: “It’s always been a weakness of mine, so I focussed a lot more on it over the winter, but not neglecting the speed.”
After fine performances in Belgium and Holland got his outdoor season off to a good start, his display in New York was particularly impressive given the stature of those in the lanes alongside him. The tactics were spot on as he inched in front of Lewandowski and then Solomon to cross the line behind Rudisha.
English told the Jumping The Gun site: “I felt really good coming around the final bend. The afterburners were in great nick so I’m very pleased.
“I’m in very good aerobic shape. I came over the line and felt like I could run another 800m race. I think that I’ve improved a lot in that department a lot. It’s hard to know what changed, but I think I’m improving race-to-race and coming into form.”
English is next in action at a British Milers Club (BMC) meet at the Mary Peters Track in Belfast on July 2nd before he heads for Lugano, Switzerland on July 8th. English will also compete in the 800m at the Morton Games on July 11th.
He said: “That looks to be a good race. The Australian guys are coming for it. It should be a fairly stacked field so I’m looking forward to that.”