Belfast Telegraph

Reynolds loses Moscow fitness battle

By Brian Hill

Holywood hurdler Ben Reynolds has suffered the most disappointing week of his life when he was forced to withdraw from the World Athletics Championships in Moscow in 10 days time because of a recurring groin injury.

Athletics Ireland has just announced an 11-strong squad which excludes Reynolds but still contains the names of three Ulster athletes.

The 21-year-old from North Down AC has been battling this particular ailment on and off for some time while still competing in races.

However, in recent days he came to the conclusion that the problem was such that he could not do himself justice by competing in the Russian capital.

Brother Tom, Ben's coach, explained that Ireland's top hurdler did not want to go to Russia in anything less than peak fitness.The intermittent pain has simply made this impossible.

Reynolds career has been dogged by injury difficulties.Early last year he set a number of Northern Ireland indoor records which qualified him for the World Indoors in Istanbul.

There he exceeded all expectations by reaching the semi-finals. However, his injury jinx struck shortly afterwards which sidelined him for the remainder of the year.

While his early season form this year was rather indifferent Ben felt that his training was going better than ever. All this hard work then suddenly paid off five weeks ago when he again broke the Northern Ireland outdoor record in Dublin.

His most impressive performance to date then came only 48 hours later when he achieved the World Championship qualification standard at the Mary Peters Track where he was timed at 13.49 secs. However, in both these races his success was tempered at the finish by some worrying clutching of the upper leg. Clearly this indicated a significant physical problem.

In contrast 800 metres star Mark English (20) is Moscow-bound in the form of his life. Last weekend in the London Olympic Stadium the Donegal runner almost set a new Irish record with a time of 1 min 44.84 secs.

Also named for the marathon is Annadale's Paul Pollock (27) who has the unenviable task of racing against the world's elite over the Moscow streets in heat likely be in excess of 30 degrees.

And 26-year-old Tori Pena of Finn Valley celebrated her birthday yesterday following her inclusion in the team for the pole vault.

The full Irish team is: 400m - Brian Gregan; 800m - Mark English, Paul Robinson; Marathon - Paul Pollock; 50k Walk - Robert Heffernan, Brendan Boyce; 400m - Jennifer Carey; 800m - Rose-Anne Galligan; Marathon - Maria McCambridge; 20k Walk - Laura Reynolds; Pole Vault - Tori Pena.

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