Ireland’s top athlete Derval O’Rourke has confirmed that she will again defend her Irish 60m hurdles title at the Woodie’s DIY Irish Indoor Athletics Championships at the Odyssey Arena Belfast in two weeks time. The former World Indoor champion has recently returned from a heavy training schedule in South Africa. This seems to be paying dividends already as she started her season in fine style a few days ago in Linz Austria, where she finished second to Yvette Lewis of the US in a useful 8.16 seconds. This is well inside the 8.20 seconds qualification standard for the forthcoming European Championships in Paris.
29 year old O’Rourke snatched bronze in the previous championships two years ago in Turin but for Paris she will be setting her sights firmly on Gold. Such a goal is well within her capabilities following her achievements in last year’s European Outdoor Championships in Barcelona. In the 100m hurdles she broke the Irish record to take silver in a time of 12.65 second- which was a mere 0.2 seconds slower than winner Nevin Yanit of Turkey.
This performance came as no surprise to anyone following the Cork girl’s career as she has consistently proved herself on the big occasion. In 2006 she commenced a memorable year in spectacular fashion with an Irish indoor record of 7.90 seconds at the Odyssey. This was a prelude to her crowning achievement a month later when she struck gold in the World Indoors in Moscow where she again set new Irish figures of 7.84 seconds.
The following August Derval snared silver in the European Championships in Gothenburg. Another major success came in 2009 when she just missed a medal when finishing 4th in the World Championships in Berlin.
The women’s 60m is again lining up to be a competitive affair with O’Rourke’s training partner and good friend Ailis McSweeney confirmed. McSweeney has opened 2011 with a new PB time of 7.34 in Chemnitz Germany in January, bettering her previous best of 7.37 achieved six years ago in 2005. She also achieved the European Indoors standard and scored a victory in Linz with 7.39. It looks like McSweeney is continuing her good form of 2010 and could well be heading for the Irish Indoors record of 7.30 which was set by Anna Boyle in 2007.
The Cork athlete will face competition from Celbridge’s Claire Brady who was ‘Athlete of the Meet’ in Belfast last year after her 7.35 seconds PB performance in taking the 60m title ahead of McSweeney. UU’s Amy Foster took the IUAA title last weekend when equaling her PB in the heat with 7.49 seconds while Niamh Whelan also has a 7.49 PB and finished third in the event last year. Kelly Proper is likely to be in the mix here along with competing in the Long Jump and 200m making it a busy weekend for the Ferrybank athlete.
RTÉ Two and RTÉ.ie (worldwide) will be showing highlights of the Championships on an OB Sports special on Monday 21 February at 7pm.
This is the eighth Irish Indoors meeting in the North which has been made possible by the generous assistance of title sponsor Woodie’s DIY and funding partners Belfast City Council.
Woodie’s DIY Irish Indoor Athletic Championships is also sponsored by accommodation partner the Premier Inn who have three hotels based in Belfast- Titanic Quarter (120 rooms), Waring Street (171 rooms) and Alfred Street Hotel (148 rooms).
Tickets are available from Ticketmaster outlets or the Odyssey box office. Visit www.indoorathletics.net for more information.