BY CHRIS MCNULTY
MARK English won the 800m title at the GloHealth Senior Indoor Championships yesterday just 24 hours after securing the qualifying time for the European Indoors.
English saw off Declan Murray and Niall Tuohy to claim gold in the 800m final, sitting mid-pack until he made a telling move 200m out to capture the top place on the podium in a time of 1:51.34.
The Letterkenny man, who runs for UCD AC, secured the qualifying time for next month’s European Indoors on Saturday when he finished sixth in the 800m at the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham, where he ran in 1:47.17.
A day later and another national title was his.
“I’m really happy,” English said.
“I went out there to win that race. I kind of new the strengths and weaknesses of the competitors coming into the race. I trained with Declan Murray out in South Africa for three weeks. Niall Tuohy was back to defend his title. He made a good move with 300m to go and I just tried to accelerate past him. I’m delighted with how the race panned out.”
English heads for Prague next week and at the O2 Arena will be hoping to follow on from his European outdoor bronze from 2014.
In August, English took bronze at the Stadion Letzigrund in Zurich to claim a bronze medal, behind Polish duo Adam Kszczot and Artur Kuciapski.
He said: “It’s hard to know until you get out there and run the first two rounds – that’s a real good indicator. I’d like to think that, after Zurich, I’ve mastered the art of the race environment. I respond to the race environment more so than a time trial. I think I’m as good as anyone else out there.
“I always see Indoor times as being one second slower than outdoor. Last year, I opened up with a 1:46.2 outdoor and now my indoor time is 1:47.1. Hopefully I’ll get two or three tough sessions this week and then taper towards the Europeans. I’m really excited about getting out there.
“When I go to any Championships and put on an Irish vest I always want to give it 100 per cent – and that’s what I’ll do.”
Saturday’s race in Birmingham was won by Kenya’a Jeremiah Kipkorir Mutai in 1.45.93 and English put two races in as many days down to his preparation.
He said: “One of the main improvements I needed was my aerobic fitness and I can see that after races – I’m able to recover very quickly and could run a race the next day without any real pain. It’s about working on speed and speed endurance now.”
There was plenty of joy for Donegal athletes in Athlone at the Irish Indoors at the weekend.
Tir Chonaill AC’s Mary McLoone won gold in the triple jump, clearing 12.10 metres to add to her extensive portfolio.
St Johnston man John Kelly, in the Finn Valley AC colours, set a new Donegal record of 15.97 metres to take silver in the shot putt final, won by Sean Breathnach from Galway City Harriers (17.42 metres).
There was silver for Brendan Boyce in the men’s 5k walk, the Letterkenny AC man finishing second behind Alex Wright (Leevale) in a time of 20:33.58, while former Letterkenny AC woman Maria McCambridge took gold in the women’s 3,000m, coming home in 9:26.77 and there was a bronze for Tir Chonaill AC man Conall Mahon in the triple jump thanks to his 14.08 metres.
Letterkenny AC’s Danny Mooney was fourth in the men’s 1500m while Ann-Marie McGlynn was fifth in the women’s 1500m.
There are strong Donegal ties, too, to Gerard O’Donnell, the Carrick-on-Shannon man who impressively won the men’s 60m hurdles title. O’Donnell is the son of Peter (RIP) and Mary O’Donnell, formerly of Ardara.
Campaign started this week to bring the heart of the Cathedral town, namely the Market Square, back to life.