Belfast Telegraph

Irish indoor athletics event is a ‘huge success’

By Brian Lovett

Organisers have described the Irish Indoor Athletics Championships held in Belfast at the weekend as a “huge success” after their five-day preparations for the event.

The seventh meeting of the championships again proved to be highly successful with several eye-catching performances.

Among the results, James McIlroy announced his return to top athletics with a spectacular victory in the men’s 800 metres.

The 33-year-old Larne athlete abruptly retired from the sport two years ago after the championships. In his weekend heat he recorded a stadium record time of one minute 48.64 seconds. This inspired him to a win in the final where he had 1.5 seconds to spare at the finish over arch rival David McCarthy.

Irish junior athlete of the year Ciara Mageean’s two minutes 7.82 seconds winning time in the 800 metres took almost a second off the 19-year-old Irish record.

Lisburn's Kelly McNeice had a superb win in the 1,500 metres in a championship best performance of four minutes 14.64 seconds.

The Lisburn athlete is clearly back to her best thanks to a new coach plus a hard training schedule in the US. She said she was looking forward to her first ever championships as a build up to the Commonwealths in Deli in the summer.

Former World Indoor Champion Derval O'Rourke was delighted with her 8.18 seconds win in the 60 metres hurdles. This was her tenth championship victory and came on the back of a three week injury-enforced layoff.

The CT was last week given a behind-the-scenes look at the logistics involved in transforming the Odyssey Arena into the showcase for more than 100 top class athletes from around the world.

Final preparations were being put into cleaning and testing Ireland's only indoor hydraulic 200-metre running track and setting up the sand pit and high jump.

Describing it as one of the most “challenging and exciting events” at the arena operationally, Rob Vick from the arena said the turnaround — the period required to prepare the arena from hosting one event to another — is five days for the championships.

Claire Cosgrave, event manager at the Odyssey Arena, said there were 10 core people involved in the preparations each day as well as additional cleaning staff.

After the event, she said: “The arena's athletics facilities worked superbly and provided a great weekend of athletics enjoyed by athletes and spectators from across the island.”

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