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from RTE website – Gillick focused on competing
– Proper breaks Irish long jump record
– Two golds, one silver for Finnegan
– Gillick focused on competing

Political conflict and social tensions may surround China’s hosting of the 2008 Games, but David Gillick, although fully aware of the situation, insists the athletes are solely focused on competing.

Gillick got his first taste of the Olympics when the Irish athletics team landed at Beijing Capital Airport on Saturday, greeted by smiling volunteers and some eager local journalists.

‘It’s not something I really want to comment on, to be honest. I can’t help what goes on in China,’ said the Irish 400 metres record holder.

‘The Olympics are there, it’s not going to stop me from going and competing.

‘I’ve worked hard for the last four years. So wherever the Olympics are going to be, I’m going!

‘It’s unfortunate, all the negative press about it and hopefully it won’t interfere too much.

‘But I think it’s going to be a great occasion in China and from what I can gather, the Chinese are well up for it.’

Gillick, a first-time Olympian, is currently in Matsue in Japan, taking part in a ten-day training camp with his Ireland team-mates.

His 400m heat does not take place until Monday, August 18 and the Dubliner cannot wait to step onto the Beijing National Stadium track.

‘It’s great that the Olympics are finally here, I’m looking forward to it and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it.

‘It’s just a case of getting out there and running to our potential – that’s the excitement side of things and we’ll see how it goes.

‘It’s a four-year cycle and you’ve major championships every year, everything leads onto this.

‘The Olympic Games defines people’s athletics careers, there’s a lot of sweat and tears and hard work have gone into it (the preparation).

‘I’ll be very proud – competing at the Olympics is something that I’ve always dreamed of, representing your country on the biggest stage.

‘Hopefully there’ll be a few of us around for 2012 as well,’ he added.

Gillick reached the 400m semi-finals at last year’s World Championships in Osaka and has had a number of 45-second runs this summer, including a solid effort at the recent London Grand Prix.

But he will almost certainly need to better his Irish record (45.12) in order to reach the semis in Beijing.

Gillick was satisfied with his final pre-Olympics race in London, where he finished third behind his Loughborough training partner Martyn Rooney.

‘Tactically, my race didn’t go the way I wanted it. But it was a good meet, great competition and I managed to beat a few people I’ll be racing against in Beijing.’

The 25-year-old will not be lacking support for his Olympic debut, with a certain suburb in Dublin 16 already beginning to empty.

‘We had a few relatives and cousins up on Thursday (for a send-off). The parish of Ballinteer has been very good to me when I’ve been home and Ballinteer St. John’s (my old GAA club) had a night for me as well.

‘I’ve three friends that have cycled over (to Beijing), they left Dublin last September.

‘All their families are coming out as well. So there will be a great load of us from Ballinteer out there.’

Proper breaks Irish long jump record

Kelly Proper capped a marvellous season when she broke the long standing Irish long jump record at the Amsterdam Open in Holland at the weekend.

After breaking the Irish Under-23 record a couple of weeks ago it was only a matter of time before she added the senior record, and that gives her a clean sweep of records – Junior, Under-23 and Senior.

She opened her latest competition on Saturday night with an impressive 6.57m only to find that the wind was over the legal limit at 2.1m/s. She followed up with 6.26m before jumping 6.51m, but that too was over the legal limit.

She broke her fourth attempt before jumping 6.44m and then capped a great evening with a jump of 6.51m with a following wind of 1.8m/s to break Terri Horgan’s 1992 record of 6.48m.

Proper is not part of the Irish Olympics team. The world best in her event is currently 7.52m, set by Galina Chistyakova of the former Soviet Union in 1988.

The current season’s best performance so far is a jump of 7.12m by Naide Gomes of Portugal at Monaco.

Two golds, one silver for Finnegan

Geraldine Finnegan won two gold and one silver medal at the European Veterans Championships in Ljubljana, Slovenia, this weekend.

The 42-year old athletics coach from Dunleer AC in Louth won gold in the Heptathlon and Pentathlon, and silver in the 400m hurdles.

Her points tally of 5,082 in the Heptathlon is a new Irish record for the event.

Her performance is made more remarkable as Finnegan suffered a pelvic injury when competing in the World Championship hurdles last September, and has missed more than four months of the season while receiving treatment in Denmark.