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Hession ready for inside track


from The Irish Examiner By Brendan Mooney
PAUL HESSION is aiming to build on his phenomenal 2008 achievements when he returns to action next month.
The Galway man, who narrowly missed out on a place in the 200m final at the Beijing Olympics, is set to compete in Moscow and Malmo before the Irish Indoor Championships at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast in February (7-8), followed by the Europeans in Turin a month later.

The NUIG student skipped the indoor season last year but is excited about a return.

“Since the Europeans in Birmingham (two years ago) I have not done an indoor season,” said Hession, who is training under coach, Stuart Hogg, in Scotland.

“But I have had a good winter with training going well. Two years ago I decided to run indoors to improve my reaction, my start and my early speed and I don’t think I expected what happened afterwards.

“Since then I have not really raced over 60m but I will have something similar in mind.

“I want to break up my training and get the feel of competition again. So, from that point of view, it’s not really important in itself but it is very important as a stepping stone to the summer as well as being a break from training.”

Two-time European indoor 400m champion David Gillick is training abroad and has not indicated if he will compete indoors. In 2007 he came straight off the training track to retain his European indoor title in Birmingham. He won the title two years earlier in Madrid, where Alistair Cragg completed an exciting Irish double by winning the 3,000m.

Meanwhile Ireland has been offered a place in the women’s 4 x 400m relay at the European indoors in Turin and Chair of High Performance, Patsy McGonagle, is currently working on getting a team together. With Joanne Cuddihy out of the picture at the moment, he may call on former national record holder, Karen Shinkins, to strengthen the squad.

Joanne’s father, Dr Bill Cuddihy, has completed his term as Medical Officer to the Irish athletics team and has been replaced by Dr Joe Conway, former Medical Officer to the Irish Paralympic team.

And, following a meeting earlier in the week with the Olympic Council of Ireland at their Headquarters in Howth, it has been agreed that Ireland will have a team of 14 at this year’s Youth Olympics — an increase of two athletes.