Davoren relaunches career with fine third in Balmoral

FREDA DAVOREN relaunched her athletics career in style when she finished third behind Kelly Holmes, the Commonwealth 1,500m champion, and Helen Clitheroe in the Event Scotland Mile at Balmoral.

The almost-forgotten Killarney athlete, who made a huge splash in Irish athletics while still studying at UCC where her coach was former international Ray Shanahan bounced back after a long struggle with a hamstring problem.

Freda had not run a competitive race since she was forced to pull out of the national inter-counties cross-country championships in Dungarvan, in December of 2001, and she spent all of last year on physiotherapy.

"It was so frustrating," she recalled. "But it had been bothering me for a long time and then, in Dungarvan, it got really bad. All I could do last year was half an hour on a treadmill. I went to a number of people with it and Johnson McEvoy in Limerick worked very well for me."

When things improved and she got back training again she went to New Zealand for four months along with her training partner Maura Prendeville, a former national 800m champion, who underwent knee surgery last year.

"We did four months of really hard training and I was anxious to see what kind of shape I was in.

"As it happened I was in pretty good shape. I just got up to the front early on and stayed there. In the end I ran 4:46 and I felt pretty good. I had absolutely no problem afterwards with the hamstring. I was concerned about that because I raced in Castlemartyr last week and had a slight twinge.

"I had never run a mile before but I am obviously delighted with the way the race went. I just can't wait to convert this onto the track when I will be running 1,500m," she said.

"The object is a qualifying standard for the world championships, but both the A (4:05.8) and B (4:07.1) standards are pretty tough. To achieve a standard I would need to get into a Grand Prix race and I am hoping that Saturday's performance will help me to do that. It was a very strong field."

On Saturday she will compete in the AAI International Games in Navan, in the 800m as there is no 1,500m race. The field at Navan will also on Saturday when the field will include Dubliner Aoife Byrne and a number of foreign athletes yet to be named.

"The event is very important for us in terms of team selection," said AAI International Secretary Liam Hennessy. "There are two important Permit Meetings coming up in Latvia, and we will be sending teams there, and of course we have the European Cup coming up as well."

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