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Ulsterman English's tactics pay dividends

By Brian Hill

Published 13/08/2016

Ireland's Mark English (left) during the men's 800m heats at the Olympic Stadium
Ireland's Mark English (left) during the men's 800m heats at the Olympic Stadium

Ulsterman Mark English showed his class in yesterday's men's 800m first round by executing his tactics to perfection to come through the field and finish in the top three to qualify for this weekend's semi-finals.

The 23-year-old UCD student defeated some top-class opposition to finish a comfortable third in a time of one minute, 46.40 seconds. The race was won by Canada's Brandon McBride in 1:45.99, and he was followed by European silver medallist Marcin Lewandowski of Poland in 1:46.35.

Donegal man English, who took silver at last year's Euro Indoors event, will be immensely relieved at progressing to the semis in Rio after a far from perfect early-year preparation, which was plagued by injury. He eventually recovered and showed signs of his old self three weeks ago in London with a spirited run of under one minute, 46 seconds.

English (right) said: "You have to trust your own race plan. My preparation went well in the Irish training camp. The weather was good and I practised getting up early to get ready for this race. I was nervous beforehand but you want that adrenaline rush.

"I treated the race like a final. I'll need to run one minute, 44 seconds to reach the final."

This weekend's Rio action involves several local athletes including Portaferry's Ciara Mageean in the first round of the 1,500m. The women's steeplechase will involve Irish women Sara Treacy, Michelle Finn and 35-year-old Kerry O'Flaherty of Newcastle.

Tomorrow's women's marathon will feature Fionnuala McCormack, Lizzie Lee and north Belfast's Breege Connolly. At 38-years-old, Connolly thought the chance to compete at an Olympics had passed. She'll enjoy every second.

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