By Will Downing
Mark English has become the latest Irish athlete to qualify for August's World Athletics Championships in London.
The Donegal athlete clocked 1:45.42 in finishing second in the 800m at this afternoon's Diamond League meeting in Stockholm, dipping well under the IAAF standard of 1:45.90.
English came second behind Dutch athlete Thijmen Kupers in a tight finish.
In a major boost to the double European Championship medallist, English finished ahead of regular rival Adam Kszczot, the Pole who has won the last two European titles outdoor over the two-lap distance, plus three of the last four European Indoors crowns.
English was fourth at the bell behind pacemaker Bram Som, Kszczot in second and Kupers third, with the Pole going strongly after the bell to hit the front.
Despite looking very assured at this point, Kszczot began to run out of steam with 150 metres to go however, and both Kupers and English overtook the Polish athlete on the final bend.
The Dutchman had enough left to win in 1:45.02, with English holding on to second place quite comfortably narrowly behind Kupers, half-a-second inside the IAAF qualifying standard thanks to a season’s best that was 0.6 seconds better than his previous leading time of 1:46.02 set in Hengelo last Sunday.
South African Rynhardt van Rensburg was third in 1:45.73 with Kszczot falling back to fourth in 1:46.06.
The result puts English 20th in the 2017 rankings over 800 metres, with Clayton Murphy of the USA the fastest in the world this year on 1:43.60. Kupers is the fastest European, ranked ninth in the world at present.
English’s achievement follows that of Ciara Mageean and Thomas Barr, who earned their qualifying stripes at the two previous Diamond League meetings in Rome and Oslo respectively.
Barr was not in the field for the 400m hurdles, which was won today – as was the case in Oslo in Thursday night’s Bislett Games – by Norwegian sensation Carsten Warholm.