BY CHRIS MCNULTY
MARK English lead a quartet of Donegal athletes at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships in Moscow this week.
20-year old English will be competing in his first major senior international meet – and heads for Russia in stunning form.
The Letterkenny man is regarded as one of the brightest talents in Irish athletics. At the end of July, English produced a sensational 1:44.48 run in the 800m at a Diamond League meet in London to make the A standard for the World Championships. English was just two hundredths of a second off David Matthews’ 800m national record that night.
That meet in the Olympic Stadium was English’s debut in the Diamond League, but he was quite at home, finishing sixth in a race won by the American Nick Symmonds in a time of 1:43.67.
English is hot property and bounced back from the disappointment of not getting out of his heats at the European U23 Championships by setting a 1:45.32 pb at the Morton Games before setting that outstanding time in London to qualify for Moscow.
The IAAF World Championships get underway on Saturday and eyes will be on English, who finished fifth at the World Junior Championships in Barcelona last year. English and the Irish athletes leave Dublin today – and he’s joined by three other athletes familiar to sports fans in Donegal.
Milford’s Brendan Boyce, a member of Letterkenny AC, lines out in the 50k walk. Boyce finished in 29th at the Olympic Games in London last year and heads to Moscow also in good form having set a series of best times in four different distances.
Former Letterkenny AC athlete Maria McCambridge, now with Dundrum South Dublin AC, will compete in her second World Championships – 12 years after her debut appearance in 2001. The 38-year old is married to LAC’s Gary Crossan. Her marathon best is the 2:35:28 set last October and she recently won the 5,000m at the National Championships.
Finn Valley AC’s Tori Pena is Ireland’s only field athlete, competing in the pole vault. The national record holder, with the 4.60m she cleared in California in June, Pena competed at the 2011 World Championships and the 2012 Olympic Games and is aiming to make the final.
The Irish team will be managed by Finn Valley AC stalwart Patsy McGonagle.