Track and field action at the World University Games gets underway tomorrow (August 22), with an 11-strong Irish delegation ready to take to the track in Taipei, Taiwan.
The multi-sport Games began last Saturday (August 19), with over 10,000 athletes competing in 300 medal events, across 21 sports.
64 athletes from third level colleges and universities are representing Ireland across athletics, diving, football (men and women) and swimming events.
The 11-strong Irish track and field delegation is headed by Olympian Michelle Finn, who represented Ireland at the Rio Games in 2016.
Finn, 27, competes in the 3000m steeplechase heats in the early hours of Thursday (August 24) morning.
Emma Mitchell, the recently crowned Irish national champion in both 1500m and 5000m, will hope to continue this year’s impressive form in 10,000m final on Wednesday (August 23). Mitchell is also entered for the 5000m but is not expected to compete in both races.
Fellow national champion Phil Healy contest the women’s 200m, while Paul Byrne, will aim to replicate this year’s personal best form of 50.03 in the 400m hurdles.
Speaking to Fast Running ahead of his first taste of a global championships, Byrne said: “The build up to these championships has gone brilliantly and I can’t wait to get out on the track on Thursday to perform like I know I can. My 50.03 in July was a long time coming after a batch of disappointing 50 high/51 low second runs in the middle part of the season.
“Training had been going so well but my racing this year hadn’t reflected that, but it all just clicked on the day at the Brussels Grand Prix when I clocked 50.03. Athletics is a funny business, all you need is one good race to change your outlook on things! To back that up at Nationals then with a 50.2 was exactly what I wanted.”
“I had my last session today (Tuesday 22) and I felt as fast as I have been feeling all year. I know I can go sub 50 seconds and that’s what it will take to make the final here. That’s the aim and I have come here with that mentality and outlook. There are some guys from the World Championships in London and Olympians from 2016 here so I’ll be in good company, but this is what it’s all about… mixing it with the best on the big stage in (hopefully) good conditions on a fast track. Everything is teed up for me, all I need to do is go out and run fast and perform to the best of my ability,” he added.
Also representing Ireland is 22-year-old Marcus Lawler, who will double up in the 100m and 200m, with the sprint heats taking place on Wednesday (August 23) and Friday (August 25) respectively.
Sport Ireland Chief Executive, John Treacy said: “The number of athletes reaching the Games shows the calibre of athletes we have in our third level institutions.”
The complete Irish athletics delegation, plus details on the Games schedule and live coverage can be found below.
100m & 200m – Marcus Lawler
400m Hurdles – Paul Byrne
1,500m – Kevin Kelly
5000m – Matthew Bergin
20km race walk – Cian McManamon
100m – Niamh Whelan
100m hurdles – Sarah Lavin
200m – Phil Healy
3000m steeplechase – Michelle Finn
5000m – Shona Heaslip
5000m & 10,000m – Emma Mitchell
For live coverage visit livestream.com/fisu.