Holywood star Katie Kirk is cleared to race for Ireland
IT’S official now... gifted young Holywood 800m runner Katie Kirk has made the move from Team GB to the Ireland athletics squad.
The Belfast Telegraph can reveal that the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has provided clearance for the 21-year-old to compete for Ireland in the coming season.
It means a fresh start on the international scene for the Queen’s University student, who would relish racing in a green vest at this year’s World Championships in Beijing.
Kirk, who almost reached the Commonwealth Games final in Glasgow when competing for Northern Ireland, thought long and hard about making the switch having represented Great Britain in the European Junior Championships in 2011.
Essentially she felt it was a move that was necessary to enhance her athletics career.
Kirk’s personal best time of 2mins 02.63secs in the 800m, achieved in Glasgow last summer, ranked her 13th in last season’s GB list thereby making it extremely difficult to gain international selection in what is one of the UK’s strongest events.
In contrast with Ireland she will be one of the strongest 800m competitors. Having been granted clearance by the athletics authorities to race for Ireland, Kirk is now in contention to be selected for the European Team Championships in June.
Another event on the horizon for Kirk, famously chosen by gold medal-winning Dame Mary Peters to carry the Olympic torch at the London 2012 opening ceremony, could be the World Championships in August and then there is the 2016 Rio Olympics to target.
The level-headed individual that she is, Katie, whose dad and coach Mark was a fine athlete himself, knows however that time is on her side
“I’d never really thought of Rio as my Olympics because I’m still pretty young but obviously it would be a great experience if I did qualify,” she said.
Meanwhile, top Northern Ireland sprinter Amy Foster will run for Ireland in the IAAF World Relay Championships in the Bahamas next month (May 2/3).
The 26-year-old current Irish 100 metres champion and record holder from Newtownards, who races for Lisburn AC, has a personal best time of 10.40secs.
She was the lead off runner in the team which broke the Irish 4x100m record in the European Championships in Zurich last August with a time of 43.84secs.