Successful weekend for Irish athletes

Several of Ireland’s top athletes were in action over the weekend with some excellent results achieved including a new Irish record.

Several of Ireland’s top athletes were in action over the weekend with some excellent results achieved including a new Irish record.

Jamie Costin and Robert Heffernan were both competing at the European Race Walking Cup in Leamington Spa and they both turned in remarkable performances after returning from injury.

Heffernan, who had an operation on his Achilles last year, was competing the 20K walk and the Corkman was in contention for a medal until the last 400m. He ended up finishing 5th in the race in a time of 1:20.15, which knocked 10 seconds off his own Irish record.

Waterford’s Jamie Costin also had a superb race as he competed in the 50km at the English venue. Costin’s future in athletics was very much in doubt following a near fatal car crash in Athens ahead of the Olympics in 2004.

However the 29-year-old finished the race in 15th place in a time of 3:53.30. This took 28 seconds off his personal best and secured him qualification for the World Championships in Osaka in August and the Olympics in Beijing next year.

Alistair Cragg continued his excellent form at the weekend as he raced in Carson, California. The Clonliffe runner recently broke the Irish 10,000m record and in the 1500m yesterday he ran a personal best of 3:36.18 to finish second behind Commonwealth Games champion Nick Willis from New Zealand.

Liam Hennessy, chair of the Athletics Ireland High Performance Committee, said: "It was a great weekend for Irish athletics. Robert Heffernan's performance in Leamington has moved him into the upper reaches of world -class walking. It's a remarkable achievement as his past few years have been bedevilled with injury.

He added: "Robert can now move with confidence towards Osaka and Beijing. As for Jamie Costin it's an extraordinary personal triumph after the trauma of Athens. Alistair Cragg's new personal best in the 1500 now sees him with qualifying standards in the 1500, 5000 and 10,000 for Osaka."

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