Youthful Irish side take on the world

Athletics Ireland have announced a hugely inexperienced squad for the upcoming World Championships.

Eight of the 11 athletes selected will make their debut on the world stage in Moscow, with only Rob Heffernan, Maria McCambridge and Tori Pena boasting previous experience at this level.

Moreover, the team of 11 represents a shrinking of the squad size that travelled to Osaka, Berlin and Daegu in 2007, ’09 and ’11.

Pole vaulter Pena, who set a national record of 4.60m in June, and Mark English are the sole Irish athletes to have attained the A standard in their respective events this year.

The 20-year-old English clocked 1.44.84 at the London diamond league meet on Friday evening, paving the way for the selection of Paul Robinson who had run a B standard time over the two lap event.

Rose-Anne Galligan will compete in the women’s equivalent having broken Sonia O’Sullivan’s 19-year-old record on Friday. Galligan’s time of 2.00.58 was just shy of the A standard, but sufficient for selection.

Rob Heffernan will spearhead the Irish challenge on the road, competing only in the 50km where he will be succinctly determined to improve on his fourth place position from the London Olympics.

The 35-year-old, despite a spate of top six finishes, has yet to medal at international level.

Brendan Boyce, who is coached by Heffernan, will also take to the starting line for the gruelling event.

Ben Reynolds was the only surprise omission from the team having clocked 13.49 at the Mary Peters meet last month, just under the B standard mark for the 110m hurdles.

For Brian Gregan, selection for Russia has put to bed the frustration of 12 months ago. The Cloniffe Harriers sprinter had run a B standard for the 400m, but the OCI remained steadfast in their A standard only policy.

“I’m delighted to get selected,” he said. “That always plays on the back of my mind. I’ve been reassured by everyone that I would get selected, but there is always that doubt lingering in the back of your mind that you mind not make it, but thank god I did.

“I was absolutely delighted to get the call.”

Gregan, on the back of victories in Dublin, Gothenburg and Heulva, was tipped to medal at the recent World Student Games, but finished a disappointing fifth in the final.

“I’ve had a few little injuries here and there since the World Student Games in Kazan. I’ve been doing a lot of stuff in the pool of late, but hopefully I can get 10 solid days in before Moscow. I had inflammation of my heel and I had trouble with my left knee.

“Preparations haven’t been ideal because of those injuries, but hopefully now they have been put to bed and I can put in some quality sessions before Russia.”

He added: “I’ve been to World Indoors, but this is my first World Outdoors. I’m going to go out there and enjoy them.”

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