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Dublin: 14 °C Friday 24 May, 2019
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Stars come out for National Track and Field Championships

This weekend is the last chance saloon for those Irish athletes still hoping to achieve the Olympic “A” Standard.

DERVAL O’ROURKE will be the headline act in Santry as a host of Ireland’s Olympic hopefuls turn out for this weekend’s Woodie’s DIY Senior Track and Field Championships.

O’Rourke skipped the European Championships last week in order to concentrate on her preparations for London but is now ready to get back on track as she guns for a 10th national crown in the 100m hurdles.

The Leevale AC athlete aside, all eyes will be on those who have one last chance this weekend to hit the “A” qualifying standard before the Olympic deadline on 8 June.

Jason Smyth, the reigning national champion, will compete in Loughborough on Saturday before returning to Dublin to defend his 100m title. In Helsinki last week, the Derry native fell far short of the 10.18 qualifying time he needs to join the elite club of athletes who have competed at both the Paralympics and the Olympics. With Irish record holder Paul Hession and training partner Steven Colvert also expected at the start line, Smyth faces a tough test if he is to make it back-to-back senior titles.

Jessie Barr set a new personal best on her senior debut at the European Championships last week, clocking a new PB of 55.93 to qualify for the 400m hurdles final. The Waterford native has been included in Ireland’s 4x400m relay squad but races in Bottrop, Germany tonight to try to improve to the qualifying time of 55.50.

Men’s 400m hopeful Brian Gregan skips Santry to have one last shot at Olympic qualification in Madrid, leaving the door open for 2011 national champion Brian Murphy. Murphy’s title defence was made easier by David Gillick’s decision to call time on his season earlier this week.

European Cross Country champion Fionnuala Britton headlines the women’s 1500m race, which is missing last year’s winner Ciara Mageean who hopes to achieve the Olympic standard over the distance in Finland instead.

In the women’s 400m, record holder Joanne Cuddihy will be up against the rest of her relay team-mates with Marian Heffernan, Michelle Carey and Catriona Cuddihy set to provide the challenge.

Marathon specialist Maria McCambridge drops down in distance and will be the firm favourite to take the women’s 5000m, while the men’s contest was left wide open Alistair Cragg’s decision to compete in America as he continues his preparations for London.

In the field events Irish record holder Deirdre Ryan will hope to improve on her season’s best of 1.83m while Tori Pena will be the favourite in the women’s pole vault.

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Niall Kelly

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