Athletics Ireland has today named Olive Loughnane (Loughrea AC), 2009 world silver medallist, as part of the 17 member team that will compete at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships in Daegu, South Korea from the 27th of August to the 4th of September.
The 35-year-old has raced sparingly all year, firmly focusing on making the podium again at these championships. In this few outings she has displayed form, last racing at the Dublin Grand Prix of Race-walking in June where she finished second to Liu Hong of China. At the European Cup of Race-walking in May, Loughrea was hunting down first place when she was unfortunately disqualified for lifting. The Cork woman plans to travel from her current training camp in the Sierra Nevada mountains in Spain, to a holding camp in Seoul and then onto Daegu.
Robert Heffernan (Togher AC) who had the qualification standard for both the 20k and 50k walk has yet to decide to in which event he will compete. The Corkman, has had a trying season to date having to settle for 10th place at the European Cup of Race Walking in May and failing to finish the Dublin Grand Prix event in June due to injury which he has struggled to overcome. Any doubts however as to whether he would regain fitness for the championships were put to bed at the Woodie’s DIY Senior Track and Field Championships of Ireland this weekend when he impressively won the 10km walk after completing a 20km training session earlier in the day in Phoenix Park. Heffernan is always a contender at major championships producing his best ever performance at last year’s European Championships in Barcelona finishing fourth in both the 20km and 50km walk. His best performance at a World Championships was in 2007 when he finished sixth. Colin Griffin (Ballinamore AC) who has just returned from attitude training in Levino Italy in preparation for the championships, will line up the men’s 50km walk. Griffin will be looking to change his unfortunate series of results from previous World Championships; in 2007 championships he was disqualified, while in 2009 the heat coupled with cramps resulted in the Leitrim man having to withdraw.
Derval O’Rourke (Leevale AC) will compete in the 100m hurdles after securing her ninth national title in 13.24. O’Rourke is currently 17th in the IAAF ranking which includes nine Americans, of which only three can compete at the World Championships. However, as one of Ireland’s greatest championships athletes these rankings are more likely to be tossed aside by O’Rourke when she lines up in her fifth World Championships. Her last outing at these championships two years ago in Berlin produced a memorable sequence of performances, progressing through the rounds in 12.86, 12.73 and finally producing yet another Irish Record in the final of 12.67 to finish fourth. At last year’s European Track and Field Championships she again set a new Irish record of 12.65 to claim the silver medal.
Fellow club-mate, Ciaran O’Lionaird secured his place on team when he produced one of the best performances by an Irish man over 1500m in recent years, running 3.46.46 at a meet in Oordegem Belgium just 6 days before the deadline date for qualification. This time moved him to fourth on the all-time list surpassing Mark Carroll and is also qualification standard for the London Olympics. O’Lionaird who is on a scholarship in Florida State University has been showing phenomenal form this year running his first sub 4 minute Mile and running personal bests in the 3000m and 5000m. He competed in the 800m heats at the senior championships at the weekend but withdrew from the final as he was not feeling well. The Corkman will gain invaluable experience at his first World Championships.
Alistair Cragg (Clonliffe Harriers) achieved the 5000m qualification standard at the New York Diamond League, running a season’s best of 13.12.21. While this time is significantly off his personal best of 13.07.10 which he set in 2007, it is an improvement on the 13.21.66 best of 2010. At the London Diamond League Grand Prix, Cragg had a promising run over 3000m finishing fourth in 7:46.29. He followed this with an easy win in the 5000m at the national championships. Cragg has qualified for two previous world championships and he is looking to progress into the final which he has previously failed to do.
There will be dual representation in the women’s 3000m with Fionnuala Britton (Kilcoole AC) and Stephanie O’Reilly (Sli Cualann AC), who both achieved the qualification standard at the Diamond League in New York. Britton has had her brightest track season in a number of years setting personal best in the 3000m, 5000m. While in the steeplechase she has improved her best time which she set back in 2007, three times to 9.37.60. The Wicklow woman did not make the team for the 2009 World championships but at the 2007 championships she made the final and finished 12th. Stephanie O’Reilly (Sli Cualann AC) will compete in her first world championships after making her major championships debut last year at the European championships. This year O’Reilly’s performances have moved onto a new level with personal bests in 800m, 1500m, 3000m and 5000m, in addition to the steeplechase. Both athletes competed in the 1500m at national championships with O’Reilly second in 4.16.43, and Britton (Kilcoole AC) third in 4.18.03
Double Paralympian Jason Smyth (City of Derry) is named in the team after running a personal best of 10.22 in Clermont, Florida in May which is just four hundredths off Paul Hession’s Irish record. The Derry man is coached by Stephen Maguire and is based in Florida produced another solid performance to win the 100m in 10.52 at the nationals this weekend.
Irish Record Holder Paul Hession, produced the performance of the national championships to win the 200m in 20.51 to gain the A qualification standard for both the Olympic. Hession’s had a seasonal best of 20.65 prior to this. Hession is a seasoned campaigner narrowly missing finals at the last number of major championships. The Galway man finished 10th at the World Championships in Berlin and will certainly will be looking for a solid performance.
Joanne Cuddihy (KCH AC) was another to achieve the standard at the weekend winning the women’s 400m in a seasonal best of 52.15 which is the B qualification for the Championships. Cuddihy make the semi-final of the World championships in 2007.
In the field events, Deirdre Ryan (DSD AC) and Tori Pena (Finn Valley AC) have been rewarded with selection after setting new Irish Records to achieve the B qualification standard. Ryan improved her record last in Germany of 1.93m which was also the B qualification standard for the World Track and Field Championships. She followed this up with a championship best performance of 1.90 at the national championships. Pena has improved the Irish record six times this season, cumulating in the 4.40m which was set last Monday at the Nationales Stabhochsprung meeting in Switzerland to achieve the B standard.
The women’s 4x400m team who set an Irish Record at the European’s last year 3:31.25 includes Irish record holder Joanne Cuddihy (KCH AC). It also includes regulars, Marian Andrews-Heffernan (Togher AC), Claire Bergin (DSD AC) and Michelle Carey (Dublin Striders AC). The new addition is U23 400m hurdles record holder Jessie Barr (Ferrybank AC). The squad have produced solid performances this year with a 3:30:11 run at the team championships in Izmar in Turkey and a 3.31.43 at the recent Flanders Cup in Ghent the team ran 3:31.43, both inside the qualification standard of 3.32.00.Unfortunately the women’s 4x100m will not be travelling to the championships as the team has been hampered with injuries.
Laura Reynolds (Mohill AC) and Brendan Boyce (Letterkenny AC) who both had the B qualification standard for walks events have chosen to focus on the World University Games in China.
Kevin Ankrom commented “For our more experienced athletes this will be the opportunity for them to show their credentials. These championships will be successful for us if we achieve top eight finishing positions. I am also excited about the new comers to the team such as Ciaran O’Lionaird and also about the potential of our women’s 4x400m squad.”
Team Selection IAAF World Track and Field Championships
Jason Smyth (City of Derry) 100m
Paul Hession (Athenry AC) 200m
Joanne Cuddihy (KCH AC) 400m
Derval O’Rourke (Leevale AC) 100m Hurdles
Ciaran O’Lionaird (Leevale AC) 1500m
Fionnuala Britton (Kilcoole AC) 3000m Steeplechase
Stephanie O’Reilly (Sli Cualann AC) 3000m Steeplchase
Alistair Cragg (Clonliffe Harriers) 5000m
Deirdre Ryan (DSD AC) High Jump
Tori Pena (Finn Valley AC) Pole Vault
Robert Heffernan (Togher AC) 20km Walk
Olive Loughnane (Loughrea AC) 20km Walk
Colin Griffin (Ballinamore AC) 50km Walk
Women’s 4x400m Team from
Joanne Cuddihy (KCH AC)
Marian Andrews-Heffernan (Togher AC),
Claire Bergin (DSD AC)
Michelle Carey (Dublin Striders AC).
Jessie Barr (Ferrybank AC).
Team Leader: Kevin Ankrom
Team Manager: Patsy McGonagle