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English shows best for Irish

By Brian Hill

Ulster's Mark English was the star of the Irish team on the opening two days of the European Indoors Athletics Championships in Prague.

The 21-year-old UCD student never looked in any difficulty in his 800m first round heat where he observed the opposition from the rear for much of the race before moving up in the last 300m.

With 100 metres remaining the European Outdoors bronze medallist moved to the front and just did enough to secure an easy victory, and the fastest time of the day, in 1 min 48.10 secs ahead of Thijmen Kupers of the Netherlands.

English, ranked fourth in Europe, is now a firm favourite not only to qualify from today's semis but he also has a real chance to snatch Ireland's first medal since 1969 in Sunday's final.

In another 800 metres heat Clonliffe's Declan Murray was delighted to also make the semis.

Holywood doctor Paul Pollock ran a superb race in his 3,000 metres heat where he mixed it with the leaders for much of the race in third place.

The Annadale man then faded in the final four laps but fought back to be rewarded with a personal best time of 7.58.78 for 10th place.

In the Men's long jump, University of Ulster's Adam McMullan had to settle for 17th place in the qualification round with a jump of 7.53 metres.

There were also good performances by Clonliffe's Dara Kervick in the 400 metres. He dominated his first round heat to win in 47.03 secs. In his semi he stuck gamely to local Czech favourite Maslak who won in 46.46 secs before fading in the home straight to 4th in 46.96 secs.

UCD's 800m runner Ciara Everard recorded a season's best time of 2.02.69 to qualify for today's semis.

The Kilkenny woman stuck grimly to her task in a fast heat to finish 3rd behind the Russian Poistogova in a time which was 7th fastest overall and only marginally short of her PB of 2.02.54.

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