None Former Olympic athlete James McIlroy is planning to use next month’s Woodie’s DIY Irish Indoor Athletic Championships at the Odyssey Arena as his comeback race following his retirement from the sport nearly 2 years ago.

The All-Ireland event will take place on 6-7th February and is organised and promoted by Athletics Northern Ireland and Athletics Ireland. Funding partners include Belfast City Council while the Premier Inn is the official accommodation partner.

The 33 year old Northern Irish 800 metres record holder clearly feels that he has something more to achieve following his recent abrupt retirement after the World Indoor Championships in March 2008. His departure at that time was surprising as it followed a number of excellent indoor performances. This included victory over Kenyan 800m star Richard Kiplagat at the Odyssey followed by a PB of 3 minutes 39.3 seconds over 1500m in the Birmingham Grand Prix.

In recent months the Larne athlete has quietly undertaken serious training with the build up to his track return including a respectable 2 hours 47 minutes marathon debut. He is currently training at Harvard in the US before returning in time for the 800m at the Odyssey.

It is clearly too early to predict if the affable McIlroy can recapture the sort of form which he showed a number of years ago. As a 21 year old he made a spectacular arrival on the international scene by just missing out on a medal in the European Championships. Two years later he was a semi-finalist in the Sydney Olympics and in 2005 he set a superb NI 800m Record of 1.44.65, which ranks him in the GB All Time Top 10.

McIlroy should have little difficulty making the qualifying standard for this October’s Commonwealth Games in Delhi. Lisburn’s Kelly McNeice and Newcastle’s Kerry Harty who are also racing at the Odyssey have their sights firmly on Delhi. Kelly, who was athlete of the meeting two years ago with her double victory at 800m and 1500m shot to second in last year’s Irish outdoor rankings with a Games qualifying time of 4.10.30 in Gent. Kerry tops the 3000m list with a NI Record of 9 minutes 9.5 seconds from last June.

However Irish Junior athlete of the year Ciara Mageean is the girl who is currently commanding most attention. World Youth silver medallist Mageean has also qualified for Delhi and will be out for a hat trick of Odyssey victories over 1500m following her spectacular Irish Junior record wins over the past two years.
Already confirmed for this high profile meet is World Indoor medallist Derval O’Rouke and junior athletes Christine McMahon and Adam Ingram.

For more information and to buy tickets for this prestigious event log on to www.indoorathletics.net or visit Ticketmaster or the Odyssey Box Office.