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Relief for Mark English as he reaches Tokyo at last


Mark English. Credit: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Mark English. Credit: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Mark English. Credit: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Triple European medal holder Mark English broke a 26-year-old Irish 800m record to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.

The 28-year-old shattered David Matthews’ record with a time of one minute, 44,71 seconds in Castillo, Spain, taking 0.11 seconds off the old target.

The race was won by Yasmine Hethat of Algeria in 1.44.25.

Finn Valley athlete English has been on tenterhooks for weeks regarding qualification.

Over a period of three weeks he just marginally failed to gain the qualification mark of 1.45.20 in four races, his closest being 1.45.22 in Madrid.

English’s result in Castillo, therefore, came as a massive relief, coming as it did on the last day of qualification.

He can now concentrate exclusively on his preparations for the Games at the end of July.

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The Irishman is now ranked 24th in the world rankings with 48 eligible to compete in Tokyo.

Irish Athletics will shortly be submitting the names of proposed athletes for Tokyo to the Irish Olympic Association.

Tokyo selection and an Irish record represent a major milestone in English’s career, which has included a silver and two European bronze medals.

Donaghmore’s Eilish Flanagan, meanwhile, ran her second fastest steeplechase in Lucerne with nine minutes, 42.71 seconds — two seconds shy of her recent Northern Ireland record.

She is hoping for Tokyo selection alongside Michelle Finn, who has achieved the qualification mark.

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