Donegal athlete smashes indoor record in thrilling finish at Sport Ireland National Indoor Arena

A good day for Donegal's Mark English, James Kelly and Sommer Lecky

Donegal athlete smashes indoor record in thrilling finish at Sport Ireland National Indoor Arena

Mark English of Finn Valley AC, Donegal, right, dips for the line to win the Men's 800m, ahead of Cian McPhillips of Longford AC. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Irish athletics returned with a bang at the Irish Life Health Elite Micro Meet at the Sport Ireland National Indoor Arena today.

Donegal's Mark English broke his 800m indoor national record while James Kelly will be delighted with his performance in the shot-put which saw him claim an indoor PB of 16.72. 

The event which received Government approval via the Sport Ireland Expert Group saw athletes compete for European Indoor qualification, as well as Category E World Ranking points for all those athletes working towards Tokyo qualification.

2019 European Indoor Bronze medallist English (Finn Valley A.C.) stole the show as he went on to break his own National 800m Indoor Record of 1:46.82 in a stunning finish with Cian McPhillips (Longford A.C.).

The Donegal man crossed the line in a record breaking 1:46:10, with McPhillips clocking 1:46.13 to claim an over 6 second PB, as well as the Under-20 and Under-23 800m Indoor records in the process.

The time also ranks McPhillips 2nd on the European U20 All-Time Indoor standings.

Both men were well inside the European Indoor Championships standard of 1:48:25 along with John Fitzsimons (Kildare A.C.) who finished third in 1:47:80.

The final race of the day was another which caught the eye, with John Travers winning the Men's 3000 metres, clocking a lifetime best of 7 minutes 50.40 seconds to just get the better of Darragh McElhinney, who set an Irish Under-23 record in second place in 7 minutes 50.80 seconds. They along with third-placed Conor Bradley and fourth-placed Hiko Tonosa all ran inside the European Indoor Championship standard.

Event summary:
The Meet got underway with the Women’s 200m which saw Sarah McCarthy (Mid Sutton A.C.) come home in 24.68 ahead of Catherine McManus (Dublin City Harriers A.C.) in 24.98 for their season openers.

The Men’s 200m followed shortly after where Leon Reid (Menapians A.C.) stormed to a sub 21 second PB (20.96) which ahead of Marcus Lawler (St. L. O'Toole A.C.) 21.23, and Mark Smyth (Raheny Shamrock A.C.) 21.41.

Up next was the High Jump which saw both male and female athletes compete in turn. David Cussen (Old Abbey A.C.) equalled his personal best with a superb 2.10m jump. Jordan Lee (Killarney Valley A.C.) secured a jump of 1.86m as he looks to build towards a big year of outdoor competition.    

2018 World Junior Silver Medallist Sommer Lecky (Finn Valley A.C.) will be satisfied with her 1.75m season opener. Aoife O'Sullivan (Liscarroll A.C.) also impressed and bowed out at 1.70m having cleared the height on her third attempt.

Sarah Lavin (Emerald A.C.) continued her blistering early season form in the first series of the 60m Hurdles, equalling her second fasted time of 8.21. Lavin already had attained the European Indoor Championships standard of 8.20. European U20 Championships silver medallist (Heptathlon) Kate O’Connor (Dundalk St. Gerards A.C.) will be happy with her opening 60m Hurdle performance of 8.59 as she looks to build for the upcoming combined events season.

Both athletes showed tremendous consistency by following up with solid performances in series 2 of the 60m Hurdles an hour later. Both were just outside their opening times, with Lavin posting an 8.22, while O’Connor came home in 8.57.

Matthew Behan (Crusaders A.C.) exploded out of the blocks to come home first in 8.00 in the first of the Men’s 60m Hurdles ahead of Gerard O'Donnell (Carrick-on-Shannon A.C.) in 8.07. Both men returned to the start-line an hour later where O’Donnell (7.95) reversed the result with both athletes dipping under 8 seconds to improve on their earlier times. Matthew Behan finished his second run of the day in 7.99.

The afternoon session got up and running with the Women’s 1500m where Michelle Finn (Leevale A.C.) took on pace making duties. Emerald A.C. athlete Amy O’Donoghue was hot on the heels of Finn for the first 1000 meters but unfortunately had to step out in some discomfort. Ellie Hartnett (UCD A.C) went on to cross the line first in 4:35.27 , while Rio Paralympic athlete Greta Streimiktye will be delighted with her season opener of 4:42.61.

Next up was THAT Men’s 800m race which saw 2019 European Indoor Bronze medallist Mark English (Finn Valley A.C.) break his own National 800m Indoor Record of 1:46.82 in a stunning finish with Cian McPhillips (Longford A.C.).

The Letterkenny man crossed the line in a record breaking 1:46:10, with McPhillips clocking 1:46.13 to claim an over 6 second PB, as well as the Under-20 800m Indoor record in the process.

The Shot Put was next in action and James Kelly (Finn Valley A.C.) will be delighted with his performance which saw him claim an indoor PB of 16.72. The Women’s Shot Put saw Michaela Walsh (Swinford A.C.) impress in her season opener with a 15.17 throw. Casey Mulvey (Inny Vale A.C.) finished second with a 14.69, while heptathlete Kate O’Connor (Dundalk St. Gerards A.C.), 14.22, and Ciara Sheehy (Emerald A.C.) 13.05 rounded off the field.

The final event of the day was the Men’s 3000m which saw four athletes run under the European Indoor Championships (EIC) standard. A race which was paced by Jonny Whan (Clonliffe Harriers A.C.) saw John Travers of Donore Harriers (7:50.40), Darragh McElhinney of U.C.D. A.C. (7:50.80), Conor Bradley of City of Derry A.C. Spartans (7:53.70), and Hiko Tonosa of Dundrum South Dublin A.C. (7:53.79) join Jack O'Leary, Sean Tobin and Brian Fay in running under the EIC standard of 7.58.50.

Day 2 of the Irish Life Health Elite Micro Meet will get underway with a bang at 11.40am tomorrow as the Women’s 400m field take to the start-line. A preview of Day 2 can be found here with a live stream available on the Athletics Ireland YouTube Channel.

If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Donegal Live editorial team any time. To contact Donegal Democrat and Donegal People's Press, email editorial@donegaldemocrat.ie To contact Donegal Post, email editor@donegalpost.com To contact Inish Times, email editor@inishtimes.com.

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