A bumper Irish team of 24 athletes have been selected for the European Indoor Athletics Championships in Torun on March 5-7. The Irish results have been top class in recent weeks, with several athletes making European Standards but a maximum number of 3 athletes per event were allowed.
12 Irish sportswomen make up Ireland’s largest ever team to travel to a major indoor championships.
Several top performers from the 2019 edition of this championships return in 2021, including medallist Ciara Mageean and semi-finalist Phil Healy, with several performers who can target a final or better, most notably 800m record breakers Siofra Cleirigh Buttner and Nadia Power.
European Indoor Athletics Team 2021:
60m: Ciara Neville (Emerald AC), Joan Healy (Leevale AC), Molly Scott (SLOT AC)
60m hurdles: Sarah Lavin (Emerald AC)
400m: Phil Healy (Bandon AC), Sophie Becker (Raheny Shamrocks), Sharlene Mawdsley (Newport AC)
800m: Nadia Power (Dublin City Harriers), Siofra Cleirigh Buttner (Dundrum South Dublin AC/New Balance Boston), Georgie Hartigan (Dundrum South Dublin AC)
1500m: Ciara Mageean (City of Lisburn/New Balance Manchester)
3000m: Michelle Finn (Leevale AC)
Athletics Ireland High Performance Director Paul McNamara said:
“It has been a remarkable indoor season so far in 2021, for many reasons, and this is reflected in both the size and quality of the team travelling to Poland. Despite higher qualification standards and fewer opportunities to compete, Irish athletes nailed their opportunity when it presented itself, most notably this past weekend at the Irish Life Health Elite Micro-Meet, and we now have an unprecedented 24 athletes who have earned selection for the 2021 European Athletics Indoor Championships, with many more who have posted qualification standards missing out due to the 3-athlete-per-event limit”.
Irish Life Micro Meet Results:
Day one of the meet got underway with the Women’s 200m which saw Sarah McCarthy come home in 24.68 ahead of Catherine McManus in 24.98 for their season openers.
Up next was the High Jump which saw both male and female athletes compete in turn. 2018 World Junior Silver Medallist Sommer Lecky will be satisfied with her 1.75m season opener. Aoife O’Sullivan also impressed and bowed out at 1.70m having cleared the height on her third attempt.
Sarah Lavin and Kate O’Connor (Heptathlon) competed in the 60m hurdles with two opportunities to race – an hour between each.
Lavin who has been in flying form of late equalled her second fasted time of 8.21 and ran 8.22 an hour later. Lavin had already attained the European Indoor Championships standard of 8.20. This meet allowed her to sharpen and shows her clear consistency of late.
European U20 Championships silver medallist (Heptathlon) Kate O’Connor will be happy with her opening 60m Hurdle performance of 8.59 as she looks to build for the upcoming combined events season with her second attempt finish in 8.57.
The 1500m was a highly anticipated race with Amy O’Donoghue just outside the qualifying standard. With just four athletes racing, the 1500m unfolded unexpectedly. Michelle Finn was on pace making duties with Amy O’Donoghue hot on the heels of Finn for the first 1000 meters. O’Donoghue looked to start to waiver as she came through with the bell with 400m to go and at 300m to go O’Donoghue stepped off the track.
Michelle Finn had stayed running longer than expected and when O’Donoghue dropped out, it was wondered if Finn would run the full distance and seek qualification time but she then stopped with 200m to go. Finn had already qualified for European Indoors in 3000m. Ellie Hartnett 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, close to her personal best.
The Shot Put saw Michaela Walsh impress in her season opener with a 15.17 throw. Casey Mulvey finished second with a 14.69, while heptathlete Kate O’Connor, 14.22, and Ciara Sheehy 13.05 rounded off the field.
Day two kicked off with Phil Healy opening her season in impressive style, clocking a personal best time of 51.99 in the 400m. Healy already had secured the European Indoor Championships Standard in 2020, but will be delighted to post the season leading time which ranks 6th fastest in Europe, and second on the Irish All-Time list in her first competitive outing of 2021. The race also saw PBs for Sophie Becker (53.20) and Sharlene Mawdsley 53.56 who both secured the European Indoor Championships Standard (53.60).
Heat two of was a thriller with Grainne Moynihan and Catherine McManus battling to the line in 55.2. Nicole Walsh finished in 3rd in 58.33 on her first outing of the season.
The middle-distance division continued to show its depth and a thrilling 800m saw Georgie Hartigan’s continue her flying early season form with a personal best, and European Indoor Championship Standard performance of 2.01.48 which places her third on all-time Irish Indoor 800m list. Read more on the red hot 800m racing here as Siofra Cleirigh Buttner seized the Irish record racing in the USA later that day.
National Long Jump Champion Sarah Buggy posted a 5.86 with her final jump of the day, but it wasn’t enough to topple the jump of Sarah McCarthy who posted a consistent round of jumping, topped off by a best jump of 5.94. 2019 European U20 Championships silver medallist (Heptathlon) Kate O’Connor continued her preparation for future combined events with a best jump of 5.78.
The first attempt of the 60m was up next where Molly Scott exploded out of the blocks to take first place and a European Indoor Standard in 7.36. She was followed in second place by Joan Healy in 7.42. Healy already holds the European Indoor Standard alongside Ciara Neville, Rhasidat Adeleke, and sister Phil Healy. Hurdler Kate Doherty was third and will be delighted with her PB of 7.49, as will Aoife Lynch 7.55 PB. Attempt 2 an hour later provided a remarkably similar result with Molly Scott (7.37) once again taking first place ahead of Joan Healy (7.42).
World Indoor Tour Finals:
Nadia Power, Louise Shanahan and Sarah Lavin will all be racing this Wednesday, 24th February in Madrid for the World Indoor Tour finals. All three athletes have been in flying form, with recent PBs and will get good preparation for the European Indoors in March. The event will be broadcast live on Sport TG4.