from Athletics Northern Ireland Olympic sprinter and multi Irish Record holder Paul Hession is one of a number of top Irish contenders in the Woodie’s DIY Irish Indoor Athletic Championships at the Odyssey this weekend 6th- 7th February.


The 27 year old Athenry athlete who is the holder of no less than 5 Irish indoor and outdoor records was within a whisker of qualifying for the celebrated 200m final at the Beijing Olympic s where sprint superstar Usain bolt broke the world record. Since then Hession has established himself as one of the top European sprinters.

In 2009 he was a finalist in the European Indoors and then followed this in the summer with some superb Grand Prix performances including a 20.4 seconds timing over 200m in the London Grand Prix. At the Odyssey he will be aiming to take advantage of the super fast track where he recorded his second fastest 60m time ever of 6.63 seconds when winning in 2007. At the weekend he finished 4th in a high quality field in Germany.

One of the most anticipated events of the weekend is the Women’s 60 metres where a quartet of sprinters will be in contention for the women’s rostrum. The challenge is lead by Bangor’s Amy Foster and Ferrybank’s Niamh Whelan who have both hit top form in recent days. Foster set new PB figures of 7.49 seconds in Birmingham 2 weeks ago after an injury plagued 2009.

Exciting 19 year old prospect Whelan recorded 7.50 seconds in Luxembourg in mid January which is just short of her PB of 7.49 seconds from last year when winning the Celtic Cup. She set an Irish Junior Record over 200m in 2008 and just missed out on a medal in last summer’s European Junior Championships. At the Odyssey she will be aiming to go one better than a year ago when she was denied victory by US sprinter star Brianna Glen.

One athlete however whom she will need to keep an eye on is Celbridge’s Claire Brady who had an outstanding run in the London Indoor Games at the weekend where she recorded a PB of 7.48 seconds. She defeated Leevale’s Ailis McSweeney who is also competing in Belfast. McSweeney is a prolific indoor racer who has taken an AAAs bronze medal on no less than 3 occasions.

Irish record holder Anna Boyle is also making a welcome return to the Odyssey which was the scene of her triumph 4 years ago when she set new figures of 7.32 seconds. The Ballymena athlete is now based in Dublin and will be hoping for a medal placing.

Already announced for this meeting is former World Indoors Hurdles Champion Derval O’Rourke who just missed a medal in last year’s World Champs in Berlin. Also competing in this comeback race is Northern Irish 800m record holder and former Olympian James McIlroy and Irish race walking record holder Robert Heffernan.

RTÉ 2 will be showing highlights of the Championships on an OB Sports special on Monday 8th of February at 19:00 – 20:00.
This is the seventh 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.

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Tickets are available from Ticketmaster outlets or the Odyssey box office. Visit www.indoorathletics.net for more information.