International stars set to shine at City City Sports

Former Olympic and World champion Caster Semenya is undoubtedly the main attraction, a number of local stars should give the home fans plenty to shout about as the BAM Ireland Cork City Sports return after a two-year absence tomorrow, Tuesday night.
International stars set to shine at City City Sports

Irish Life National Athletics Championships, Morton Stadium, Dublin 25/6/2022

WHILE former Olympic and World champion Caster Semenya is undoubtedly the main attraction, a number of local stars should give the home fans plenty to shout about as the BAM Ireland Cork City Sports return after a two-year absence tomorrow, Tuesday night.

South African Castor Semenya will run the 3000m in preparation for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham later this month. 

Twice Olympic champion over 800m, controversially the 31 year-old has been unable to run internationally at events between 400m and a mile, unless she takes medication to reduce her high testosterone.

With a modest best of 8:54.97, Semenya’s main opposition should come from Britain’s Jenny Nesbitt. 

Sarah Healy, who has run 8:53.67 this season and was close to her best when finishing second in 4:21.50 over a mile at the Morton Games on Saturday night, could also be a factor.

Although she will be 40 next month, former world indoor champion Lolo Jones from the USA will be one to watch when she takes on Sarah Lavin in the 100m hurdles. 

Lavin, with a best of 12.93, is ranked second on the Irish all-time list behind Derval O’Rourke’s Irish record of 12.65.

Two of the most eagerly-awaited races should be the women’s 800m and men’s 3000m, both featuring a couple of Cork athletes currently on a crest of a wave. 

In May, Louise Shanahan not only broke the magical two-minute barrier for 800m but also defeated the Irish record holder, Ciara Mageean, to set a new Irish mark of 1:59.42.

The Leevale athlete again showed her tactical awareness a week ago to take the national two-lap title, her time of 2:10.90 giving her victory over Jenna Bromell (2.11.96) of Emerald AC who is also in the Cork line-up.

AT the River Lee Hotel for the Cork City Sports Athlete of the Month Award for May. Recipient LOUISE SHANAHAN ( LEEVALE AC ) receives her award from Tony O’Connell Chairman CCS .
AT the River Lee Hotel for the Cork City Sports Athlete of the Month Award for May. Recipient LOUISE SHANAHAN ( LEEVALE AC ) receives her award from Tony O’Connell Chairman CCS .

Although just beaten by Isabella Boffey at Saturday’s Morton Games, no doubt the home crowd will provide that extra incentive to Shanahan where the main opposition should come from Christina Hering of Germany who has a best of 1:59.41.

Craig Mottram’s meet record of 7:38.15 for 3,000m from 2005 may seem a tall order for Darragh McElhinney to aim for, but such is the form the Glengarriff-native has shown this season, anything is possible. 

He recently set an Irish U23 record for the 5000m of 13:17.17 - breaking John Treacy’s time of 13:26.5 set in 1978 - and again showed his superiority last week when winning the national 5000m with a 55-second last lap.

On Saturday evening, the 21-year-old improved his Irish U23 record by .05 of a second when finishing third in a thrilling Morton Mile in a time of 3:58.15. 

McElhinney has already clocked 7:45.91 for 3000m indoors this year and his main threat should come from GB athletes James West and Scott Beattie.

Much interest in the 3000m will centre on 17-year-old Nick Griggs who ran a sensational 3:56.40 indoor mile last March, a month after he had broken the Irish U20 3000m record with a time of 7:57.38. 

Certainly, the Irish outdoor record of 8:01.48 held by McElhinney should be within his grasp. The Tyrone youngster is also in superb shape, going by his sixth spot in that Morton Mile in 3:58.51.

Phil Healy, always a favourite with the home fans, will be hoping to erase last week’s national defeat to Sophie Becker when she lines up for the 400m. 

Cliodhna Manning, third in that race, along with Tipperary’s Sharlene Mawdsley and Lily Beckford from the UK, should provide the main opposition to the Bandon athlete.

In the field events, local interest will be on the pole vault where Una Brice (Leevale) and Clodagh Walsh (Abbey Striders), first and second at the national seniors, will again do battle while Leevale’s Conor Callinan will carry Cork hopes in the men’s event.

The meet, which this year carries a Continental Tour Bronze permit, gets underway at the MTU Athletics Stadium in Bishopstown at 6pm.

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