An impressive line up of world class athletes are aiming to be flying high on the Road to Rio this Saturday night at the Letterkenny AC Sub 4 Minute Mile Challenge Event. This is the fourth staging of the event at the Danny McDaid track, Aura Leisure Centre with the first race starting at 7:00pm. The event is free to all spectators and it is a chance to see many Olympic bound athletes competing in the North-West. The event will feature over 100 athletes from 20 countries from all over the World.
The Donnelly & Foley Mens Mile is set to feature six sub 4 minute milers in a stacked field, along with a number of other athletes who are all within a second of breaking the magical four minute barrier. New Zealand’s Eric Speakman, USA’s Ahmed Bile and Ireland’s own John Travers lead the field, all coming with personal bests of 3:37 for 1500m. Speakman and Travers are also chasing Olympic qualification in the 1500m and an official 1500m time clock will be in place should they get close to the Olympic standard of 3:36. Another sub 4 minute Irishman Kevin Batt will be using the mile race as a tune up for the European championships where he will compete in the 5000m. Jake Huryscz and Reid Buchanan (both USA), Robbie Fitzgibbon and Matt Clowes (both England) as well as Szymon Krawczyk (Poland), Abdellai Razyn (Morocco) and Yonaton Abreha (Ethiopia) will also line up so something special could well be in store as Juan Luis Barrios’s meeting record of 3:59.43 looks to be in great danger.
The McDonald’s/Donegal Daily Womens 800m looks like it is turning out to be one of the races of the meeting with a host of athletes chasing the qualification standard of 2:01.50 for the Olympic Games in Rio in August. Ten athletes have personal bests ranging from 2:01-2:04 so this should make for a very exciting race. Clarisse Moh (France) with 2:01.65 has been coming ever closer to the qualifying time in recent weeks, and she will be challenged by Paulina Mikiewicz and Monika Halasa (both Poland), Rowena Cole and Leah Barrow (both England), Gena Lofstrand and Anuscha Nice (South Africa), Kat Marshall (New Zealand) and Eleni Lefkopoulou (Greece). The Irish charge will be led by Kelly Neely of City of Lisburn AC, who has been smashing World masters records in recent weeks.
Olympic qualification will also be on the minds of the athletes in the Diver’s Hyundai Garage Womens 3000m Steeplechase event. Who could forget last year’s memorable race where for the first time ever on Irish soil, three Irish athletes achieved qualifying standards for the Olympics in the same race. This year’s steeplechase is showing signs that there may well be more heading for Rio over the barriers. Ophelie Claude-Boxberger (France) has a PB of 9:35, and will be joined by Sanaa Kouba and Cornelia Griesche (both Germany), Eva Kyrchova (Czech Republic), Sofie Gallein (Belgium), Louise Webb (England), and Mariola Slusarczyk (Poland). With the Olympic qualification time of 9:45, and the deadline of 11th July fast approaching, these athletes will be all looking to book their place on the flight to Rio.
Spectators will barely get a chance to catch their breath as the action doesn’t stop there with many quality races planned. The Letterkenny Credit Union Mens 400m race will feature European, World and Commonwealth Games medallist Conrad Williams of England. Williams boasts a personal best of 45.06 and is chasing a spot on the UK team for the Olympic Games in the 4 x 400m. South African Shaun de Jager will ensure that Williams will not have an easy run over the one lap distance, and has been showing great form, having run 45.90 in recent weeks. It will be a great battle up the home straight with Youssef Karam (Kuwait) and Theo Campbell (England) also set to feature.
World Silver medallist Magda Gorzkowska from Poland is set to be the star attraction in the Bonnar Engineering Womens 400m. The polish sprinting star is a silver medallist from the 2016 World Indoor championships in Portland, Oregon and has a personal best of 52.95. Leatitia Libert (Belgium) will be hot on her heels with a personal best of 52.88 and the English duo of Nicole Kendall and Ella Barrett will be a tough challenge with Barrett chasing a qualification time for the World Junior championships.
The J.J. Reid Motors Mens 100m will be set to produce some fast times with a host of World class sprinters to take to the starting blocks. Peter Emelieze (Germany) and Josh Swaray (Senegal) lead the field with personal bests of 10.18 and 10.23 and are chasing down Olympic qualification. Ari Bragi Karason (Iceland) will be out to show that Iceland can run as fast as they can play football against the English trio of Jonathon Browne, Omari Barton-Ellington and Yannick Phippen. Many of these athletes will be doubling up in the McGee Memorials Mens 200m and it looks like Hendrik Maartens (South Africa) will be the man to beat and has been in scintillating form having run a lifetime best of 20.51 just last month.
In the Tobin’s Service Station Mens 800m event, Biniam Hailu (Ethiopia) and Karol Konieczny (Poland) are the fastest starters with PB’s of 1:46 and 1:47 respectively but will also be joined by the Welsh duo of Elliott Slade and Tom Marshall, Andres Perezchica (Mexico), Jack Hallas (England), Moad Zahafi (Morocco) and American Kevin Green who have all ran under 1:50. In the Hegarty’s Auto Services Mens 3000m, City of Derry’s Conor Bradley, silver medallist at the Irish Senior championships over 5000m last weekend will battle it out with Northern Ireland champion Andrew Monaghan, Letterkenny’s own Danny Mooney and Ciaran Doherty. The international challenge is set to come from Damian Kabat (Poland) and Alazar Yesema (Ethiopia) who will be looking to break 8 minutes for the distance.
All eyes will also be on the centre-field action with the 4 Lanterns Mens Javelin set to produce a fierce contest. Iltsios Georgios (Greece) leads the field with a personal best of 79.72m, and this will be an impressive event to watch in the air, as he does battle with Damian Crawford’s stable of throwers from Lifford Strabane AC: Sean McBride, Fergus Cox, Gareth Crawford, and Darryl Crawford. The North-West boys will also be joined by Niall McGrattan of North Down AC. In the Letterkenny Glass Womens Long Jump, Karolina Zawila (Poland) has jumped 6.44m this year and Naomi Morgan (City of Derry) will be looking to put the pressure on in this exciting competition, edging closer to getting over the 6m mark.
There will be a total of 12 track and field events packed into the international programme which kicks off at 7:00pm, culminating with the grande finale, the Mens Mile, taking to the track at 8:45pm. With the Olympic Games just five weeks away, it is a great opportunity to come out and see many World class athletes gracing the tartan track in Letterkenny on their Road to Rio. Along with the support of Donegal County Council, Fáilte Ireland, Athletics Ireland and many local businesses, Letterkenny Athletic Club is welcoming everyone to come out and see this night of non-stop athletics action at the Danny McDaid Track, Aura Leisure Centre on Saturday evening.