A horde of world-class athletes will take to the track at the Cork IT Athletics Stadium tomorrow evening, with the 68th edition of the BAM Cork City Sports set to be one of the best ever. Cathal Dennehy looks at five of the best storylines to follow.
Phil Healy versus the world
For Ireland’s fastest woman, the summer is just getting started. Phil Healy made a magnificent recovery from a broken foot to finish sixth at the World University Games last month and the race to the World Championships in Doha is very much on for the 24-year-old.
The Bandon AC athlete will be the home favourite in the women’s 100m and 200m, but she faces truly world-class fields. The 100m features five women who have run 11.10 or faster, headed by US sensation Candace Hill who has a best of 10.98. British trio Bianca Williams, Ashleigh Nelson and Finette Agyapong head the 200m field, and if conditions suit Healy could well rewrite her Irish record of 22.99.
English looks for an Irish win
For Mark English, the summer has been a slow-burner.
The three-time European medallist has a best of just 1:46.96 and if he can’t run the world 800m qualifying standard of 1:45.80 in the next three weeks, he will miss his first World Championships as a senior.
That’s a fate the 26-year-old will be keen to avoid, and he will have strong opposition in tomorrow’s 800m, with Britain’s Jake Wightman and US duo Isaiah Harris and Erik Sowinski – who, like English, have run 1:44 – all in the field.
Manyonga going long
Track events often hog the limelight at major events, but that shouldn’t be the case tomorrow.
The men’s long jump boasts the best athlete to grace these shores in many years in South Africa’s Luvo Manyonga. Not only is his story an incredible one – he grew up in poverty and became addicted to crystal meth in his early 20s – but his athletic calibre is astonishing.
He has a best of 8.65m and won Olympic silver in Rio 2016 followed by World Championships gold in 2017. Just watch him soar.
The so-called perfect distance should once again captivate with a truly world-class field. American Sam Prakel clocked a blazing 3:50.94 this year but he will have it all to do against compatriots Robert Domanic and Eric Avila.
Australia’s Ryan Gregson is no stranger to these shores and the 2016 Olympic finalist has a best of 3:31.06 for 1500m, which equates to a 3:47 mile. Andrew Coscoran leads the Irish charge and the 23-year-old looks primed for his first sub-four-minute mile.
Reid, Lawler and the race to Doha
The two fastest men in Ireland – Leon Reid and Marcus Lawler – square off in the men’s 100m and 200m and in the latter distance, both will have their eye on the world qualifying standard of 20.40.
National champion Reid has run 20.62 this year, Lawler a wind-assisted 20.33, but both have it all to do against South Africa’s Anaso Jobodwana.