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UK Athletics

Irish Indoor Championships 2007

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The annual showpiece event for NI athletics gets underway at the Odyssey Arena on Saturday and Sunday when this superb facility will be the venue for the Woodie’s DIY Irish Indoor Athletics Championships.


Each year the occasion seems to get bigger and better. This time around upwards 1000 athletes will be participating a representing a mixture of school plus international level competitors from Ireland, England, Kenya, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Norway.  


It is this variation of abilities that attracts both parents and athletics supporters alike. For example few other sports could offer the likes of young JASON HARVEY (a talented young high jumper from Campbell College) the opportunity to complete against ROMAN SEBRLE who is currently the best all round athlete in the world. He is the current World Record Holder and Olympic Champion in the decathlon. At the Odyssey he will be providing full value for spectators by competing in the hurdles, 200 metres and High Jump.


However this means that despite the great superstar status he is vulnerable when facing specialists in their individual events. In the High Jump for example he will be hard pushed to defeat Ireland’s CHRIS CROWLEY who smashed his PB with a jump of 2.15 metres to win the Celtic Cup 2 weeks ago. Ballymena’s CAOLAN FLANAGAN (PB of 2.07m) and young HARVEY (2 metres) will doubtless savour the occasion to share centre stage with a true giant of the sport.


SEBRLE will not be the only “master of his trade” competing this weekend. The Men’s Walk will be graced by no less than the World Cup Champion and Olympic Silver Medallist FRANCIS FRANANDEZ of Spain. Perhaps his appearance here was influenced by the fact that Ireland’s GILLIAN O’SULLIVAN set a World Record in the Odyssey’s first ever track event 4 years ago.


One of the highlight events should be the Men’s 800 metres notwithstanding the absence of James McIlroy who will be involved in a time trial at the Birmingham Grand Prix to gain a qualifying time for the European Championships in 2 weeks. Kenya’s sub 1 minute 45 seconds JUSTUS KOECH may be past the sort of form that placed him in the world top 6 three times ago. This could leave the way open for Ireland’s DAVID MC CARTHY to capitalise on his 4th place at last weekend’s AAA’s Championships. Add to this mix GARETH TURNBULL who has opted for this event following his Irish selection for the 1500 metres in the Europeans.


In the Women’s 800m Russia’s ZEUGEUIYA ZOLOTOVA is the class act. Not only is she European Under 23 Champion but her PB of 2 minutes dead is world class. The Women’s 1500 metres should be a much closer affair featuring NI Champion KELLY REID and AAA’s bronze medallist ORLA DRUMM who has shown consistently good form recently.


In the sprints, Ballymena’s ANNA BOYLE should retain her 60m title from which she smashed the NI Record in an eye-catching 7.32 seconds. Anna is showing recent good form; her explosive start is ideally suited to indoor sprinting and should be sufficient to deal with Liverpool’s ANYIKA ONUORA and Leevale’s AILIS Mc SWEENEY.


Firm favourite in the Men’s 60m is Ireland’s PAUL HESSION who set a new Irish record of 6.66 seconds in Vienna 2 weeks ago. There is surprise opposition in the form of European 400 metres champion DAVID GILLICK who also recently set new record figures in his event of 45.91 seconds. The Odyssey event is clearly a warm-up for the defence of his title in Birmingham in early March.


Other athletes to watch include JAMES NOLAN and AAA’s Outdoor High Jump Champion DEIDRE RYAN.


School events commence at the Odyssey at 10.45am on Saturday and Sunday. International events start at 4.45pm on Saturday and 1.00pm on Sunday.


Further information from:

Brian Hill: Tel Mobile: 0781 506 9697 OR Clare McCoy: Tel: 078 4180 4032