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English writes another chapter in remarkable career

Another chapter in Mark English’s remarkable career was written in August when he collected his second European Track & Field medal in Munich.

English secured a bronze medal in comfortable fashion with an excellent tactical run in the 800 metres final.

It was a just reward for the Letterkenny man, who has been one of the elite athletes in Ireland over the last ten years.

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It hasn’t been all sunshine over the Finn Valley AC clubman’s career, but there have been some exciting days of magic.

He dazzled at the European Championships in 2014 and won a bronze medal.

English also earned silver and bronze medals at the European Indoor Championships, while he wore the Irish vest at both the Rio and Tokyo Olympics.

There has been a sense of rejuvenation about his career in recent times, and the 29-year-old showed why he is a renowned as a championship runner when in Germany.

There’s no doubt that he is very a worthy winner of the Donegal News Sports Star of the Month award for August, in conjunction with Brian McCormick Sports & Leisure, and he talked about his emotions after the big race in Munich.

“The initial feeling after the World Championships was relief, and the joy took over then.

“It has been a hell of a ride so far.”

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English’s career has really blossomed again since he linked up with Feidhlim Kelly and the Dublin Track Club.

Kelly is an old training partner of English’s and they have struck up a strong partnership.

English showed what he could do last year when he broke the Irish record that stood for 26 years in Spain.

He says he is keen to ‘explore his talent’ and his past catalogue of results have shown that he is in good company with Europe’s elite.

“I just wanted to get the best out of myself.

“I was able to look back at some old races where I performed quite well.

“One of them was the 500 metres race against David Ruddisha in 2016 and that gave me great belief for what I knew I could do and I kept plugging away, and trying to keep as consistent as I could and now I have the reward for it.”

English’s personal best stands at 1:44.71 and he didn’t need to run that quickly to land himself on the podium.

However, he did need to be calculated and composed and the decision to stay on the coat-tails of eventual winner Mariano Garcia, proved to be a wise one.

“I had a plan for the final in terms of tactics and I suppose coming up to a championships that is maybe the most important part of the preparation is getting those tactics right.

“The plan was to follow Garcia around whenever he took the lead.

“So maybe for the first time in my career, I actually got my tactics bang on, and the race turned out how I expected it to, which is a nice feeling.”

The quickest man doesn’t always win the 800 metres race.

You need to be able to position yourself so you don’t get trapped in the inside, while it’s also important not to push for home too early.

English explained: “One of my plans going into the race was to be in contention with 400 metres to go and also to be in contention at the 600 metres point.

“It’s just about being in the top three or four and then you have to move up even more at 600 metres because that’s when the race really gets going.

“I knew what the philosophy profile of the 800 metres was going into it, and I was able to picture that in my head as well.

“I knew myself when the race was going to speed up, and that actually helped a lot.”

He added: “The 800 metres is a complex event and some people don’t like that, but I love it for that reason.

“You need your speed and your endurance and your tactical plan.

“There’s lots of components within that as well. It’s an interesting game and I absolutely love it.”

English balances his high performance sport with working as a doctor and he had been based in Galway until June which didn’t make things easy on the training front.

He feels that athletics can be a lonely existence especially during the winter when there isn’t much else going on in life, but it isn’t simple to get the balance right.

“It was difficult at the European Championships, and you’re trying to combine a lot.

“Rest is important for your speed, and it’s difficult to combine everything.

“It’s a highly stressful environment getting ready for a championships and you’re very highly strung because you don’t want to do anything that would interfere with your preparations.

“It’s been difficult but I’m lucky enough because I have had great help along the way, and that’s helped massively.”

The World Athletic Championships take place in Budapest next August, while the Olympics are in Paris the following year, and English will be expected to make both events.

He’s not setting any major targets but wants to be in peak condition for when it really matters.

“I think the aim for the future for me is just to get into the best shape that I know I can get into. The competitions will then come to me.

“Ultimately it’s about producing the best version of myself.”

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