Hi-tech investment pays for O’Rourke

New technology that examines in forensic detail the movements of Derval O’Rourke as she scales hurdles has allowed the Cork woman to highlight an injury that affected her performance at the recent Irish indoor championships, while also giving her the best possible preparation for the upcoming world indoor championships in Istanbul (March 9-11).

O’Rourke has not competed at the event since winning the 60m hurdles title in Moscow in 2006 but was yesterday named in a three-strong team along with 1500m sensation Ciarán O Lionáird and U23 hurdler Ben Reynolds (North Down).

Through the Institute of Sport and Athletics Ireland, the new technology will allow O’Rourke’s coach, Sean Cahill, to analyse every step and provide analysis of things such as how long it takes the former world indoor champion to cross the hurdles, to get from one hurdle to the next as well as other elements that affect her overall performance.

“Up to now [European champion] Carolin Nytra’s coach would actually know more about Derval than we would,” admitted Cahill. “That’s because they have been using this technology all along and once they would get a race done it would be done on every athlete in the race.

“I got the stats from the world championships in Berlin from them and I was able to show them to Athletics Ireland and say ‘this is what we need’. In fairness everyone locked heads together and one of the aims at the start of training was to have this analysis available. Hopefully, it will make it a bit easier to coach Derval.”

And it was as a result of this technology at the Woodies DIY Irish Indoor Championships that they discovered the cause of this season’s below par performances on the back of what was probably her best ever pre-season’s training.

“Interestingly enough, we got the analysis immediately after the race first time. One foot was a lot slower than it would be in training. I got that result there and then and decided there was a problem with the foot.

“When we had it scanned on Monday we discovered an inflamed joint. We took immediate action and got it injected and she was back training after five days.

“Since then it has been perfect and one of the technical things that wasn’t happening for us was probably on account of her foot being sore.”

They had been banking on two big indoor meets in Lievin and Ghent to get her up to the world championships in racing form but obviously they had to abandon those plans.

“It would be a long time without a race but really she was only doing two races and all she was doing was forfeiting a week. I didn’t think it was worth going anywhere to race not being 100% fit.”

Since then she has been training flat out.

“We have changed a lot of things [this] season and obviously I would like to think she will run quicker as a result. Now that’s happening and I am very confident we will see the results at the world indoor championships,” said Cahill

O Lionáird will put the finishing touches to his preparations with an 800m race at Notre Dame this week. He then flies to Amsterdam before joining the Irish team in Istanbul.

Brian Gregan (Clonliffe Harriers), who qualified at 400m, has opted out to concentrate on the outdoor season while David McCarthy (West Waterford) will be representing Providence College at the NCAA indoor championships.

The team for world indoor championships in Istanbul (March 9-11):

Men’s 1500m: Ciarán O Lionáird (Leevale AC); Women’s 60m hurdles: Derval O’Rourke (Leevale AC). Men’s 60m hurdles: Ben Reynolds (North Down AC). Team manager: Patsy McGonagle.Team leader: Kevin Ankrom. Team coach: Sean Cahill. Team medical: Kyle Alexander (Soft tissue therapist).


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