Pick of the weekend middle-distance results was a battling second from Mark English in his specialist 800m at the Continental Tour in Madrid on Saturday (June 19) which could book his place at the Tokyo Olympics.

Mark English’s time of 1:45.22 was not only quicker than the 1:45.70 he had run a week earlier in Sweden, but also just fractionally outside the Tokyo qualification standard of 1:45.00. It puts him 42nd in the Road to Tokyo rankings with 48 places on offer.

In a thrilling race, English pushed hard all the way to the line, losing only by a narrow margin to Tony van Diepen of the Netherlands who clocked a time of 1:45.17.

With the qualification period ending on Tuesday, June 29 and the National Championships next weekend, English looks almost certain of making his second Olympic Games.

“I’m delighted to have found that old form and hopefully I can kick on in the next couple of races,” English said afterwards.

Also in Madrid, Sarah Lavin of Emerald AC became only the second Irish woman ever to break 13 seconds for the 100m hurdles, with a time of 12.95 secs for second place. It puts her 44th on the Road to Tokyo ranking list with 40 places on offer.

Another athlete chasing Tokyo qualification at the weekend was Sarah Healy of UCD AC. She finished third in the women’s 1500m at the Memoriał Janusza Kusocińskiego in Chorzow, Poland on Sunday (June 20).

Healy ran a time of 4:07.63, with the race dominated by the Ethiopian athlete Gudaf Tsegay who finished in 3:54.01. Hirur Meshesha, also from Ethiopia, was second in 3:59.43.

A week earlier, Healy had clocked a time of 4:07.15 for the distance in Sollentuna, moving her into sixth place on the all-time Irish list. More importantly, she’s ranked 38th on the Road To Tokyo rankings, with 48 places available. Healy has also qualified for the European U23 Championships starting in Tallin on July 8.

Photo: Andrew Coscoran

On the cusp of qualification

On the cusp of qualifying in the men’s 1500m is Andrew Coscoran of Star of the Sea AC. Over the past few weeks, Coscoran has broke 3 mins 40 secs for the distance three times, with 3 mins 35 secs the automatic qualifying mark for Tokyo.

On Saturday, at the Meeting National Est Lyonnais in Decines, France, Coscoran ran a time of 3:36.16 for second place in the race — not far off the 3:35.66 he had run in Sollentuna, Sweden, a week earlier. It puts him 44th in the rankings with 45 to travel. A nervous week awaits.

In the women’s steeplechase, Eilish Flanagan of Carmen Runners, currently ranked 52nd with 45 places open, may miss out. Flanagan finished fifth in Madrid on Saturday in 9:48.88 — eight seconds slower than the personal best time of 9:40.68 she ran in Oregon last May. More critically, that time is just over ten seconds over the qualification mark.

Also in action at the Meeting National Est Lyonnais was 20-year-old Simone Lalor of St Laurence O’Toole AC and John Travers of Donore Harriers. In the women’s 800m, Lalor finished second with a time of 2:07.77.

Last Wednesday (June 16), in Thun, Switzerland, she had won an 800m race in 2:07.53 – just outside the European U23 B standard of 2:07. 50. Lalor was a member of the Irish U20 4 x 400m relay squad last season.

In the 5000m, Travers finished 18th in 14:54.66.

Multiple events at home too

At home, Santry was the venue over the weekend for the Athletics Ireland Junior and U23 Track and Field Championships,where Donore Harriers scored two notable wins on Saturday (June 19).

In the junior men’s 5000m, Abdel Laadjel , who already has a qualification standard for the European U20 Championships starting in Tallin , Estonia, from July 15, proved the class of the field winning in an untroubled time of 15 mins 10.68 secs. Finishing second in 15:14.81 was Scott Fagan of MSB AC, while third was Callum Morgan of St Malachy’s AC Belfast in 15:19.35.

Fast10’s Laadjel was the class of the field over 5000m Photo: Keith McClure

Louis O’Loughlin was Donore’s second winner of the day when he raced to victory in the U23 800m in 1:51.01. In the battle for second place, Kevin McGrath of Bohermeen AC outpaced Cian Kelly of St Abban’s AC. Their times were 1:53.86 and 1:54.06 respectively. An impressive winner of the junior men’s 800m in 1:51.89 was Eoin Quinn of Mullingar Harriers.

U23s not to be outdone

Winning the U23 men’s 5000m in 14:50.91 was Conor Maguire of Monaghan Phoenix AC. Thomas Devaney of Castlebar AC was second in 14:55.12 and Evan Fitzgerald of Clonmel AC third in 14:55.48.

Home from the USA after a promising opening season on the college circuit was Laura Mooney of Tullamore Harriers AC who successfully defended her junior women’s 5000m title. Mooney’s time of 16:31.66 was comfortably inside the European U20 standard of 16 mins 55 secs

Winner of the U23 800m was Sarah Clarke of Na Fianna AC in 2:13.78, while victory in the junior women’s 800m went to Maeve O’Neill of Doheny AC in 2:10.73.

A day later, James Dunne of Tullamore Harriers took the U23 men’s 1500m title in 3:53.35, with Adam Condon of Raheny Shamrock AC the winner of a closely contested junior race in 4:13.50. Winner of the U23 women’s 1500m was Aoife Ó Cuill of St Coca’s AC in 4:29.976. Junior title winner was Siobhan Whelan of Clonmel AC in 4:34.79.

Best of the steeplechase results was Clonmel athlete Fionn Harrington’s victory in the junior boys’ race. His time was 9:23.83.

Earlier in the week

Darragh McElhinney ran a personal best 7:52.30 for 3000m when finishing third in the 3000m at the Meeting Internazionale Città di Nembro in Italy on Thursday (June 17). McElhinney, who won the Irish 5000m title last season, will compete in the European U23 Championships in Tallin.

Over 800m, Mark Milner of Tullamore Harriers ran a personal best 1:48.30 for seventh place in the men’s race while Katie Kirk finished sixth in the women’s race in 2:05.11.

In Kladno, Czech Republic, on Tuesday (June 15), Síofra Cléirigh Buttner of Dundrum South Dublin AC finished second in the women’s 800m in at time of 2:01.78. Earlier this year, Buttner ran 2:00.58 indoors. Buttner, who is back in Ireland, is another athlete with a tense week ahead. She lies 47th on the Road to Tokyo rankings with the top 48 to travel. Nadia Power, ranked 28th, looks certain of her place on the team.

In the men’s 1500m, Luke McCann of Dublin City Harriers finished eighth in 3:39.59.

Road running

Gavin Corey of Strive Racing Club was a clear winner of Jimmy’s 10km at Bishopscourt Racing Circuit, Downpatrick, on Sunday (June 20).

Corey’s time of 31 mins 56 secs but him 46 seconds clear of James Budde from North Down AC who finished in 32:42, with Chris Hutchinson of Annadale Striders a close third in 32.48.

First woman was Tracey Atkinson of North Belfast Harriers in 38:47. Caroline MacNab of North Down AC was second in 38:50 and Niamh Marrs of Glens Runners third in 41.23. Best of the teams were the Annadale Striders men and the East Down AC women.

Corey was also the winner at the thir round of the Paul Murray 5km series in Co Tyrone on Friday evening (June 18), where he clocked a time of 15 mins 13 secs. Corey has won all three rounds in the series so far with one final round to go next Friday (June 25).

Mountain runnning

Mountain running is back with Paddy Corrigan winning the Pirnce Williams Seat run (8.39km, 364m) in Co Wicklow on Saturday (June 19).

His time of 38 mins 37 secs gave him a clear victory over Barry Minnock who finished in 40:29. Sarah Brady was the women’s winner in 47:56.

At the Bweeng trail race (9.5km, 330m) in Co Cork, John Kinsella of Bilboa AC was the winner in 38 mins 42 secs. Tom Lupton of TT Racers was second in 39:48 and Sophie Daly first woman in 47:23.

Winning the mid-week Belmont Sugar Loaf race in Co Wicklow (8.26km, 360m) was orienteer Ruairi Long of UCD AC in 39 mins 43 secs. Rory Burke of DUH AC was second in 42;42 and Aideen Burke of Donore Harriers first woman in 56:04.