Athletics Ireland has named the 2011 European Cross Country Champion, Fionnuala Britton (Kilcoole AC), as part of the 26 member Irish team that will compete at the European Track and Field Championships in Helsinki, Finland from the 27th of June to the 1st of July. Britton has been in great form all year recording personal bests over the 5,000m and 10,000m distances. Britton’s time of 31.22.29 for the 10,000m back in May moved her to fourth on the Irish all time list. The time also ranks Britton in third place in Europe based on seasonal best performances. This is the first time that Britton will contest the 10,000m at a major championship having previously competed in the 3000m steeplechase.
Irish Record Holder, Joanne Cuddihy (Kilkenny City Harriers) will compete over 400m after what has been a very successful year so far for the Kilkenny athlete over the one lap distance. Cuddihy has been training and competing in Australia for the majority of the year, running a seasonal best time of 51.43 back in May to secure her place on the team. The last time these championships were held in Barcelona in 2010, Cuddihy was eliminated at the semi final stage of the competition. In Helsinki Cuddihy will aim to go one better and challenge for a top position.
Brian Gregan (Clonliffe Harriers), Steven Colvert (Crusaders AC), Paul Hession (Athenry AC) and Jason Smyth (City of Derry) lead a strong Irish men’s contingent in the sprint events. Gregan will compete in the 400m having recently recorded a personal best of 45.91 in Salamanca to demonstrate his huge potential and ability over the one lap distance. Colvert has been selected to run in the 200m after making a big break through this year, becoming the National U23 Record Holder over 100m (10.35) and 200m (20.57). Colvert’s 200m time eclipsed the old mark (20.61) held by his training partner Paul Hession. On the basis of his current form Colvert has the potential to make a big impression in Helsinki and make the final.
Hession will compete in the 200m and has a seasonal best of 20.76. Hession is a seasoned campaigner, narrowly missing finals at the last number of major championships and will surely draw upon all this experience when it matters most in Helsinki.
Double Para-Olympian Jason Smyth (City of Derry) is named in the team after running 10.24 in Clermont, Florida in May. Smyth also has a wind assisted 10.17 to his name this year. Smyth is in great shape this year and will target a place in the 100m final at these championships.
World Indoor semi finalist Ben Reynolds (North Down AC) will compete in the 110m hurdles. Reynolds set a new Irish U23 record of 13.81 in May to qualify for the championships.
Amy Foster (North Down AC) has been selected to compete in the 100m and 200m events. Foster tops the 2012 Irish rankings in the 100m with a time of 11.50 and has also ran an even quicker 11.32 this season, however this performance was wind assisted. Foster has also run 23.97 for the 200m which puts her in second place on the 2012 Irish rankings behind team mate Joanne Cuddihy.
Thomas Barr (Ferrybank AC) and Jason Harvey (University of Ulster AC) will compete in the 400m hurdles. Barr, who finished sixth at the 2011 European Juniors and broke the Irish national junior record on no less than three occasions last season, will make his Irish senior debut in Helsinki. Harvey, who placed second at last year’s Woodie’s DIY Senior Track and Field Championships behind Barr, is also selected for the 400m hurdles. Harvey ran a seasonal best of 51.67 in May to secure his place on the team.
Jessie Barr (Ferrybank AC), sister of Thomas will compete in the women’s 400m hurdles having run 56.16 in May to qualify. The time was a personal best and also moved Barr to third on the Irish all time lists.
Mark Kenneally (Clonliffe Harriers) who has been nominated for Olympic marathon selection will compete in the 10,000m. Kenneally ran a personal best of 28.33.12 for 10,000m in May to qualify for Helsinki. Kenneally will be joined on the start line by David Rooney (Raheny Shamrock AC). Rooney has had a very successful year, while on scholarship in America recording impressive victories over the 5,000m and 10,000m distances.
Stephanie Reilly (Sli Cualann AC) will compete in the 3000m steeplechase having run 9:54.55 in May. Reilly was eliminated in the heats at the last European Track and Field Championships held in Barcelona. Reilly will aim to go one better this time and make the final in Helsinki.
Ciara Mageean (U.C.D AC) and Orla Drumn (U.C.C AC) are both selected for the 1500m. Mageean the 2010 World junior silver medalist over 1500m will be making her senior Irish debut in Helsinki. Meanwhile Drumm has been in fantastic form all season setting a personal best of 4.09.05 in May to qualify for the championships. Paul Robinson (St. Coca’s AC) is selected for the men’s 1500m. Robinson has made a big breakthrough this season, running a personal best of 3.39.92 in Watford on the 10th of June.
In the field events, Tori Pena (Finn Valley AC) will be the sole Irish representative. Pena set a new Irish pole vault record of 4.52m in April to gain selection for these championships. The record ranks Pena in tenth place on the 2012 European rankings going into Helsinki.
The women’s 4×400m team includes Irish record holder Joanne Cuddihy (KCH AC) and regulars, Marian Heffernan (Togher AC), Claire Bergin (DSD AC) Michelle Carey (Dublin Striders AC) and Jessie Barr (Ferrybank AC). The new additions include Catriona Cuddihy sister of Joanne (Kilkenny City Harriers AC) and Joanna Mills (Ballymena and Antrim AC). The squad has a seasonal best time of 3:30.61, which they ran in Poland at the beginning of June. These championships offer the squad a further opportunity to improve their time and ranking in order to secure Olympic qualification.
A men’s relay 4×400m relay team which includes Irish record holder David Gillick (Dundrum South Dublin AC), Brian Gregan (Clonliffe Harriers) along with Brian Murphy (Crusaders AC) and Timmy Crowe (Doneen AC) have been selected to make up the relay squad.
Irish record holder’s Deirdre Ryan (Dundrum South Dublin AC) and Derval O’Rourke (Leevale AC) will not compete in Helsinki, both preferring to focus all their intentions on the upcoming London Olympic Games.
Kevin Ankrom commented “I am encouraged to see that we will have a very competitive team competing at the European Championships in the same year preceding the Olympic Games. These championships are a great opportunity for those just sitting outside of the Olympic standard to compete with other world-class athletes.”
Team Selection European Track and Field Championships
Jason Smyth (City of Derry AC) 100m
Amy Foster (North Down AC) 100m & 200m
Steven Colvert (Crusaders AC) 200m
Paul Hession (Athenry AC) 200m
Brian Gregan (Clonliffe Harriers AC) 400m
Joanne Cuddihy (Kilkenny City Harriers) 400m
Ben Reynolds (North Down AC) 110m Hurdles
Thomas Barr (Ferrybank AC) 400m Hurdles
Jason Harvey (University of Ulster) 400m Hurdles
Jessie Barr (Ferrybank AC) 400m Hurdles
Paul Robinson (St Coca’s AC) 1500m
Ciara Magaaen (U.C.D AC) 1500m
Orla Drumm (U.C.C AC) 1500m
Stephanie Reilly (Sli Chulainn AC) 3000m Steeplechase
Mark Kenneally (Clonliffe Harriers AC) 10,000m
David Rooney (Raheny Shamrock AC) 10,000m
Fionnuala Britton (Kilcoole AC) 10,000m
Tori Pena (Finn Valley AC) Pole vault
Women 4×400m Relay
Joanna Cuddihy (Kilkenny City Harriers)
Claire Bergin (Dundrum South Dublin AC)
Marian Heffernan (Togher AC)
Michelle Carey (Dublin Striders AC)
Catriona Cuddihy (Kilkenny City Harriers AC)
Joanne Mills (Ballymena and Antrim AC)
Men 4×400m Relay
David Gillick (Dundrum South Dublin AC)
Brian Gregan (Clonliffe Harriers)
Brian Murphy (Crusaders AC)
Thomas Barr (Ferrybank AC)
Jason Harvey (University of Ulster AC)
Tim Crowe (Doneen AC)
Team Leader: Kevin Ankrom
Team Manager: Patsy McGonagle
Team Medical Support:
Lead Team Physio: Emma Gallivan
Team Manual Therapy: Kyle Alexander
Team Physio: Kathryn Craddock