O’Rourke fighting fit for hometown tilt

DERVAL O’ROURKE diverted to Dublin en route from Thessalonika on Thursday night for an early morning check-up with Mark McCabe in advance of her appearance today at the Cork City Sports.

The former world indoor champion and European silver medallist outdoors, suffered cuts, grazes and bruising in a crashing fall after she became entangled in the last hurdle heading for victory in Germany last weekend.

She was determined to run in Cork despite the damage and went to a low-key meeting in Thessalonika on Wednesday to prove to herself that she was making the right decision and she won the race there.

“She will be running and she is on her way down right now,” her coach, Sean Cahill, said last night. “She had intended to fly from Heathrow to Cork with the other athletes but she diverted to Dublin for a 10.30am appointment with Mark McCabe.

“The cuts and grazes – the soft tissue injuries – may not look good but they are something she can handle. There was tightness in her hip and the outside of her leg from the fall and that needed to be looked at. Structurally her skeleton has taken a knock and we just wanted to make sure nothing was out of alignment. We did not want her to run fast with her pelvis out of line or anything like that.”

The Leevale athlete may have a full selection of medals, gold silver and bronze, from world and European championships, but she has yet to win at Cork City Sports where she has run 10 times.

Today she will line-up in what could prove to be the strongest 100m hurdles field in Europe this year. Included is the Olympic bronze medallist from Beijing and silver medallist from last year’s world championships in Berlin, Priscilla Lopes-Schlep from Canada. O’Rourke finished fourth behind her in the world championships.

Kelly Wells, runner-up to Lolo Jones in the American championships on Sunday and two other Americans, Nicola Denby and April Garner, join in along with Zara Hohn from Great Britain, a former European junior medallist. O’Rourke’s training partner and clubmate, Ailís McSweeney hit her best form at precisely the right time when she outsprinted Amy Foster and indoor champion, Claire Brady, in Wallone, Belgium, during the week and she did it on the double, winning both the heat and final.

Today they face the Pittsburg 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 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 who is a former world junior champion and Gloria Asumnu, who has a best of 11.03 and a wind assisted 10.95 with defending champion Ivet Lalova (Bulgaria) returning.

Niamh Whelan, who has qualified for the Europeans at 200m and her Ferrybank clubmate Kelly Proper will also be involved in the two world class 100m races.

Kim Collins, Brendan Christian and Jarred Connaughton have all declared for the men’s 100m as well as the 200m. There is a strong field for the men’s 1,500m but the women’s 1,500 featuring Olympic steeplechaser, Roisín McGettigan, Rose Anne Galligan, Deirdre Byrne and Orla Drumm could be one of the most exciting races with four Americans, three Canadians as well as athletes from Great Britain and Australia in the field.

The women’s hammer, which gets the programme under way at 1.30pm will feature four athletes who are consistently over 70 metres led by Kathrin Klaas from Germany who finished fourth (74.23m) in last year’s world championships in Berlin.

Zoe Durham, will be looking for the qualifying standard for the European championships. In the absence of Eileen O’Keeffe, Rachel Akers from Co. Clare will lead the Irish challenge.

World silver medallist, Olive Loughnane, goes in the 3,000m walk, joined by national junior record holder, Kate Veale (West Waterford).

Luke Adams (Australia), is also among the walkers and will be challenged by Olympic walker, Jamie Costin (West Waterford) with Robert Heffernan out through injury.


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