O’Rourke overcomes nerves to retain title

DERVAL O’ROURKE got her season off to a solid start at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast where she retained her indoor 60m hurdles title in 8.18 secs at the Woodies DIY indoor championships of Ireland.

The Leevale woman was having her first race since September – earlier that month she finished fourth in the world championships in Berlin – and she expected rustiness after a calf muscle tear grounded her in January.

“I felt quite anxious for the first two hurdles in the heat and thought I could have run faster if I could only lose the nerves,” she said. “I have to be happy with that after just two or three hurdling sessions and I run 8.18. Last year I opened up with 8.33 having been running of all of January.

“It has to be positive enough. I know I am in very good shape. I just need to train over the hurdles.

“We have to decide between the AAA championships in Sheffield and the international in Ghent next weekend. It depends if there are two races in Ghent. I’d rather get two runs in.

“I’m quietly confident about the world championships in Doha. I’ll go in nice and low key and see what happens. LoLa (Jones) has run 7.8 and I don’t think it will go sub 7.8 secs. I’d be surprised.”

Kelly Proper (Ferrybank) who set a new Irish indoor long jump record two weeks earlier and qualified for the world indoor championships, completed another memorable weekend by retaining her long jump and 200m titles.

Last year her 6.35m long jump would have been a national record but she has been breaking records every month since then.

“I am absolutely delighted with that,” she said. “I got the qualifying standard for Doha two weeks ago. I had planned competitions all the way through it to try and get the standard but when I got it I put those plans aside and got in some really hard training so I’d be fresh in Doha. Next weekend I go in the senior AAA championships in Sheffield and then I have the Grand Prix in Birmingham.”

Kelly McNiece (City of Lisburn AC) set a new championship record at 4:14.63 when winning the women’s 1,500m and that qualifies her for next month’s world indoor championships.

Obviously the latter achievement was her priority and she can thank Deirdre Byrne (Sli Cualann AC) for her contribution to the pace.

The Wicklow woman helped take the field apart in the opening laps but McNiece, however, bided her time and took it up at the critical point to snatch what was a big win.

“I hooked up with a new coach last March and had a great summer season and with another four or five months winter training it is really paying off.

“This was my first 1,500m indoors this season but I ran an indoor 3,000m in the Welsh championships and took 10 seconds off my outdoor pb so I knew I was strong and then it was just a case of whether the 1,500m speedwork was in my legs and it was.”

Young Ciara Mageean (City of Lisburn) continued her record breaking run with a 2:07.82 – a national junior record – in the women’s 800m.


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