Phil Healy smashes Irish 200m record in Cork

Phil Healy yesterday became the first Irish female sprinter to break the 23-second mark for 200m.

Having last month taken ownership of the 100m Irish record, the 23-year old added the 200m when clocking 22.99 at the Cork City Sports meet.

Healy’s previous best, set in early June, was 23.15 and while she dropped from second to third in the final strides of yesterday evening’s race, her performance was soon confirmed as the fastest ever by an Irish woman. The old record of 23.02, belonging to Sarah Reilly, had stood since 2001.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to come away with 22.99. Breaking another national record is fantastic,” said Healy.

I knew there was going to be a headwind on the bend. I knew there was a brilliant field there so it was just about executing my race.

“The signs have been there. I haven’t raced in four weeks and I was saying to my coach Shane [McCormack], ‘just let me race’. It has just been a great season. I can’t ask for much more. There have been PBs left, right, and centre. I’m looking forward to taking it on from here. I’ll take massive confidence from this.”

Earlier in the evening, the Ballineen native clocked 11.30 over 100m, just .02 of a second outside the national record she recorded last month. Taking the verdict was Crystal Emmanuel in 11.25, the US sprinter successfully managing a 100m/200m double.

Healy revealed she will compete over 100m and 200m at the European Championships, which run August 7-12.

She had been expected to race over 400m in Berlin given this was the distance she specialised in during the indoor season, a campaign where she recorded a personal best of 52.08 and was a semi-finalist at the World indoors in Birmingham. Her recent form over the shorter distances, though, had led to Healy and coach McCormack making the decision to prioritise in Berlin the two events where she is the national record holder.

I did an indoor season of 400m, but I just want to capitalise on the speed I have at the moment. I can do 400m for many years down the line. Right now, I’m swayed towards the 100m and 200m and to use the speed I have got.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to go so close to the record,” she said of her 100m effort.

“I’ve been looking forward to racing back home. We go abroad for competitions like this so it is fantastic to have an international competition in Cork. I’ve been at ones abroad this year where the crowds haven’t been as good as this. Athletics in Ireland has just blown up over the last couple of weeks.”

Another content Irish sprinter at the Cork IT track was Marcus Lawler, the 23-year-old Carlow native lowering his 200m best from 20.71 to 20.40. Lawler, who moves up to second on the all-time Irish list, was runner-up to Sydney Siame.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Lawler.

“The drop has finally come. I’m fed up running 20.7. It is all well and good saying you are going to run 20.4, but it has to come out. I’m delighted it did. It is about being consistent now at 20.4.

Yesterday, I was probably ranked in the 30s in Europe. 20.4 puts me up there. I can be really competitive now.

High-class fields were assembled for both the men’s 800m and the women’s 3,000m. Neither disappointed.

Ryan Sanchez of Puerto Rico held off Eric Sowinski to take the 800m in a time of 1.45.73. Camille Buscomb of New Zealand, with 8.45.97, was first home in the 3000m.

The first 10 across the line in the men’s mile broke four minutes, leading the way was Sam Prakel (3.56.09).

In one of the first races on the card for this 67th Cork City sports meet, Sophie O’Sullivan, fresh from her silver-medal performance at the European U18 championships in Gyor, claimed victory in the junior 1500m. Her time of 4.22.22 was a personal best for the daughter of Sonia.

Sophie’s European silver was one of six medals won by young Irish athletes in the past week and a half. Athletics Ireland chief executive Hamish Adams said: “Athletics is going from strength to strength. It is very exciting times. The challenge now is to transition this [young] talent to senior level.”

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