Turnbull’s perfect timing

GARETH TURNBULL claimed the 1,500m berth at the world championships in a spectacular if not sensational final at the Woodies DIY national track and field championships at Morton Stadium yesterday where the Belfast man outfoxed and outsprinted James Nolan in a flying finish to win in 3:40.32.

It was unfortunate that the place on the Irish team had to come down to this ­ Turnbull was the first to admit it but it certainly added an air of excitement to the second day's programme and provided the finish of the day with Nolan just .15 of a second behind at the line after almost stealing the race.

Third place went to Brian Murray (Templemore AC) who will head to the world student games in Korea.

Cathal Lombard did exactly what his coach, Joe Doonan, told him to do when he unleashed his run five laps out to win his first senior title ­ the 5,000m crown ­ from Clareman, Seamus Power. The Leevale man, who already held two silver and two bronze medals from previous championships, won in 13:57.33 to claim his first gold and it was fitting that it should be at 5,000m, the distance over which he recently achieved an A standard for next year's Olympic Games and, in the process, became the seventh fastest Irishman ever over the distance.

Paul McKee (Beechmount Harriers) retained his 400m title in emphatic fashion. He was not happy with his time ­ 46.43 secs ­ but it was good enough to hold off the fast finishing DSD man, David Gillick, who snatched second place from David McCarthy (Celbridge).

Karen Shinkins was thrilled with her performance ­ 52.58 secs ­ which saw her retain her women's 400m title.

She had plenty in hand to hold off Joanne Cuddy (Kilkenny City Harriers), silver medallist at the European junior championships, who set a new national junior record at 53.05 seconds in second place.

But Gary Ryan walked away from the track yesterday with mixed feelings after being involved in a sprint shoot out with Paul Brizzel in Saturday's 200m final. The winner would go to Paris as, like Turnbull and Nolan, both had B standards for the world championships. And victory went to Brizzel in 21.01 with but young Paul Hession from Athenry split the pair, just one hundredth of a second behind Brizzel with Ryan third.

Yesterday Ryan bounced back to dip under the 100m record with a run of 10.29 but the tail wind was over the legal limit and it will go down as a championship best.

But the good news last evening was that he will travel to Paris as part of the men's 4x400m squad. It was Gary Ryan's eighth senior sprint title yesterday ­ four at 200m and four at 100m.

However, when it comes to title hauls, Terry McHugh beats them all.

Yesterday he won his 20th senior javelin title by 42 centimetres from Michael Allen who had thrown further that the DCH man going into the event.

Nobody else in the history of athletics has won more national senior titles.

Gillian O'Sullivan put the finishing touches to her world championship preparations with another impressive performance in the 10,000 walk. She set a world record in this event a year earlier and, for much of this race she was again on world record schedule before she settled for another title in 20:13.13, ahead of her training partner, Olive Loughnane, who is also on the team for Paris. Olive's younger sister, Ann, who won a silver medal at the world youth championships in Canada, took the bronze medal.

Ciaran McDonagh, who set a national record at 8.00m when he made the final of the long jump at the world championships in Seville in 1999, reclaimed the national title with a superb jump of 7.95 metres more than a metre clear of the next two competitors, Shane Cullinane from Nenagh and Kevin Burke from Dooneen.

Ciara Sheehy had a double in the 100 and 200m and was named female athlete of the meeting.

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