O’Rourke bounces back to take title

DERVAL O’ROURKE bounced back from a disappointing disqualification in Barcelona on Friday night to claim her eighth 100m hurdles title and equal Susan Smith’s record at the Woodies DIY National senior championships at Morton Stadium yesterday.

She may have won as she pleased in 13.26 seconds run into a headwind of -1.9 but she was thrilled to get through the race intact after some recent experiences. Her finishes so far have been punctuated by a crashing fall in Germany and then her first-ever false start on the track where the European championships will be held in Barcelona.

“It was very noisy at the start of that race and my first thought before ‘set’ was put up your hand,” she said. “There were a lot of kids and I went at the set — before the gun — which was a little bit awkward. I have never false started a race in 15 years. “

She goes to Barcelona ranked well outside the top 10 but she said yesterday she won’t worry about that. “Thankfully I never look at statistics because statistics are never my friend,” she said. “I don’t think I have ever gone into a championship ranked anywhere above eighth. I was outside the top 20 going into the world championships last year and I nearly got a medal.

“I am hoping to do three or four more races before the European championships.

Two of her team mates also came through the championships intact. Roseanne Galligan fought out an exciting bend with young Ciara Mageean to win the 800m in 2:03.35 with the City of Lisburn teenager second in 2:05.50 and declared that she is on target for Barcelona.

“I’m really looking forward to Barcelona,” she said. “I was surprised with the time — we went through in 62 — and I felt really comfortable.

“I might try to get another 800m or even 400m in England before the Europeans just to work in my speed.

“You have to run 2:02 to get out of the heats so I am going to have to run my best just to get out of the heats. I am just going to use it for experience, hopefully for the worlds next year and London Olympics 2012.”

Joanne Cuddihy, a finalist at the 2006 European championships, got off the physio table to race in yesterday’s 400m final and won in 52.76 from Marian Andrews (Togher AC) who set a new personal best at 53.55. She also won the 400m at the Australian and New Zealand Championships earlier this year.

“I was about to pull out but I’m so glad I didn’t,” she said. “I ran 51 secs in April and I thought I might dip lower in those races in Japan but I had two technically bad races.

“When I got back to Australia I was just supposed to be there another week before coming home but then I just had a series of accidents. I split my head open in a pool and then I got whiplash and then I twisted my ankle the night before my first race.

“Today I was testing the water. I had qualified for Barcelona but I had no interest in going unless I felt I was going to do myself justice there.”

In the absence of world silver medallist, Olive Loughnane, who was suffering from a tummy bug, 16 year old Kate Veale (West Waterford) took centre stage in the women’s 5,000m walk and, after her performance in the 3,000m walk in Cork a week earlier, for the second week in succession, she set a national junior record — this time with 22:52.89 for the longer distance.

In the women’s 200m it took the photo finish camera to separate Ferrybank clubmates Niamh Whelan and Kelly Proper.

Victory went to Whelan who has the qualifying standard for the European championships, with both athletes timed at 23.68 secs. Olympic 400m runner, Joanne Cuddihy (KCH) finished third in 24.21 secs.

Kelly Proper retained her long jump title with a best of 6.35 metres after fighting off the challenge Mary McLoone (Tir Chonaill) and will represent Ireland in that event in Barcelona where she will also join Ailis McSweeney, Niamh Whelan, Claire Brady and Amy Foster on the 4 x 100m relay squad.

Ailís McSweeney (Leevale) again beat the best sprinters around when she retained her 100m title in 11.60 secs from Amy Foster, 11.76 secs, and Claire Brady, 11.85 secs.

Tori Pena, who hails from Huntington Beach, Los Angeles, and recently obtained her Irish passport, made an impressive championship debut in the women’s pole vault winning with a best of 4.15m which bettered Zoe Brown-Campbell’s national record by 15 centimetres.


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