This weekend February 19/20th close to 400 of the country’s best track and field Athletes will be heading to The Odyssey Arena in Belfast for the 2011 Woodie’s DIY Irish Indoor Athletics Championship The full programme of events promises an action packed two days of top-class athletics from athletes from all over country in their quest for a place on the podium in their chosen discipline(s).
For some this weekend will also be the last chance to achieve international qualifying times and impress the Irish team selectors, who will be meeting to pick the Irish Team for the European Indoor Championships in Paris, March 4-6th on Sunday evening.
The action will coming thick and fast over the two-days with over 26 national indoor champions to be decided in 5 field events and 8 track events for both men and women.
The sprinting events over the weekend promise to be as usual a highlight. In the women’s 60m, the 2010 indoor champion Claire Brady (Celbridge AC) will be looking to hold her own against Irish 100m record holder Ailis McSweeney (Leevale AC). Northern Ireland’s Dean Adam’s (Ballymena & Antrim AC), will be by going for the men’s 60m title on Sunday afternoon after finishing in close second to Paul Hession in last years Championships. Adams will be up against strong competition from the likes of Jonathon Holmes (Kilkenny City Harriers), Steven Colvert (Crusaders AC) and improving Jamie Davis (Raheny Sahmrock AC).
The action over one and two laps promise more white-hot competition. Niamh Whelan (Ferrybank AC), who represented Ireland over 200m at last summer’s European Championships in Barcelona, will be taking on club mate and Irish Long Jump record holder indoors and out Kelly Proper over 200m. Both will have to watch out for Steffi Creaner (Celtic DCH AC) who will planning to mix it up with best on the day. The women’s 400m should be equally competitive with Marian Heffernan (Togher AC), Michelle Carey (Dublin Striders AC) and Claire Bergin (DSD AC) all gunning for top-honours over the indoor two-lap event. Heffernan will be hoping husband and double 4th place finisher at last summer’s European Championships, Rob Heffernan (Togher AC), will also be making it to the top of the rostrum when he competes in the men’s 5km Walk on Saturday evening.
West Waterford AC ‘s young and hugely talented Kate Veale will start favourite for the first event of the weekend, the women’s 3km Walk on Saturday afternoon.
Clonliffe Harriers’ Brian Gregan has been in excellent form of late having run 400m in 46:82 earlier this month in Vienna, currently the 5th fastest in Europe this season. Gregan is only 21 and will be hungry to take the race to his rivals for the title, like the fast-improving Timmy Crowe of Dooneen AC, last year’s silver medallist and Leevale’s Paul Scanlon, who will coming over from his base in London for a chance at the 400m title.
The men’s and women’s middle-distance events on paper, and should be in practice, exciting affairs. Equally talented and ambitious Fiona Kehoe (Kilmore AC), Ciara Everard (Kilkenny City Harriers) and Rose Ann Galligan (Newbridge AC) will all be toeing the line over 800m in the belief that they can steal the precious advantage over their fellow-competitors and finish ahead of the field.
The men’s 800m, if the key players opt to run, should also be a crowd-pleaser. The new national junior indoor record holder over 800m, Letterkenny AC’s Mark English, will be up against his team-mate and the equally-in-form Darren McBrearty over the four-lap indoor event. McBrearty is currently ranked 7th in Europe with his time of 1:47:87 set earlier this month in Vienna. Athletes of the calibre of Kilkenny’s Eoin Everard will be hoping to keep pace and match their rivals over the final lap.
Over 1500m, McBrearty may well be hoping to go for the prized 8/15 double; but he won’t have it easy, as he will up against the 2011 Irish Universities 800m champion, Doheny AC’s Joe Warne, John Coghlan (Metro St Brigids AC) and the young and very talented Paul Robinson (St Coca’s AC), the Irish junior mile record holder.
The women’s 1500m will feature Ireland’s new young running sensation Ciara Mageean (City of Lisburn AC), the 2010 World Junior 1500m silver medallist, take on Ireland’s 3000m Steeplechase record holder Roisin McGettigan (Sli Culann AC). North Sligo AC’s Mary Cullen, who achieved the qualifying time for Paris over 3000m this month, is a late entry for the 1500m event on Saturday. Cullen will be first competing over 3000m at the Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham on Saturday. Kilcoole AC’s Fionnula Britton will be hoping to achieve the 3000m qualifying time for Paris of nine minutes flat when she lines up over 3000m on Saturday evening against ambitious athletes like Kerry Harty (Newcastle & District AC).
Another interesting battle will be taking place at the Pole Vault between former Irish record holder Zoe Brown (Raheny Shamrocks) and current record holder Tori Pena (Finn Valley). Pena will return to Ireland this week after setting a new Irish pole vault record of 4.30m in New Mexico which is a European standard for Paris. A battle between the two should make for some great competition. Reigning champion Claire Wilkinson and Sarah Semeraro are also entered.
The Woodie’s DIY Irish Indoor Athletics Championships always throw up great competition and this year promises to be no exception.
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.
Timetable of Events