Derval to face Canadian star at Cork IT

DERVAL O’ROURKE, who has yet to win at Cork City Sports, again faces a huge assignment when she lines up alongside Olympic bronze medallist Priscilla Lopes-Schlep from Canada in the 100m hurdles at the CIT Track on Saturday.

Again the organisers have put an exceptionally strong international field together for the feature event for what will be the 59th staging of Ireland’s premier athletics meeting.

Not only did the Canadian finish third behind Dawn Harper (USA) and Sally McLellan (Australia) in Beijing in 2008, she finished runner-up to Brigitte Foster-Hylton (Jamaica) at the world championships in Berlin last year when O’Rourke came back from injury to take fourth in an exciting final.

And there was confirmation yesterday from Kelly Wells, runner-up to Lolo Jones in the US championships on Sunday, she will also attend.

“It certainly is a cracking field but Derval is in very good form right now and her best time this season puts her ahead of the others,’’ meet organiser, Dick Hodgins, said.

Fans would be advised to arrive at the CIT Track early on Saturday when the meeting will get underway with two explosive events.

The women’s hammer, timed for a 1.30pm start, will feature some of the world’s top throwers, led by Kathrin Klaas from Germany, who finished fourth in last year’s world championships in Berlin, where Anita Wlodarczyk (Poland) set a new world record at 79.96m.

Klaas threw 74.23 for fourth spot and she bettered that in her very first competition of the current season with a throw of 74.53m.

It was originally hoped Ireland’s Eileen O’Keeffe would headline this particular event, but she is recovering from surgery on a knee injury.

The organisers are anxious to make this a permanent fixture on the programme now. The move to the CIT Track provides the infield facility for throwers and they have gone ahead and put an exciting field together.

The Marghieva sisters from Moldova are included. The older of the two, Marina, is current national champion and has a best of 72.53, while Zalina has a best of 71.56.

Zoe Durham, who won the UK championships at the weekend, will also be in action, renewing rivalry with the runner-up, Sophie Hitchon. In the absence of Eileen O’Keeffe, Rachel Akers from Clare will lead the Irish challenge.

The track events will get off to an explosive start at 2.15pm with two women’s 100m races featuring some of the world’s leading sprinters.

Star attraction will be Pittsburgh powerhouse, Lauryn Williams, who finished fourth in the Olympic Games in Beijing two years ago and has a collection of individual and relay gold medals from recent world championships.

Cydonie Mothersill, from the Cayman Islands, a finalist in the 200m in Beijing, is also included, along with two other Americans, Me’Lisa Barber, a former world junior champion over 100m and Gloria Asumnu, who has a best of 11.03 and a wind-assisted 10.95. They will join last year’s winner, Ivet Lalova (Bulgaria) and Sheri Ann Brooks (Jamaica) with a best of 11.18.

There is also a strong UK contingent but all eyes will be on the Irish challenge led by national champion, Ailis McSweeney (Leevale), indoor champion, Claire Brady (Celbridge) and the Ferrybank pair, Niamh Whelan and Kelly Proper.

Irish schools champion, Joan Healy (Bandon AC), will have a final attempt at qualification for the world junior championships when she lines up.

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