Irish middle distance stars Mark English and Ciara Mageean will be among the leading attractions at the Morton Games, a European Athletics Outdoor Permit Meeting, in Dublin on Wednesday (21).
This event itself might only date back to the start of the decade in terms of antiquity but the Morton Stadium is steeped in middle distance history as its lineage dates right back to the 1950s when Australia’s Herb Elliott set a world mile record on this track on 6 August 1958, one day before teammate Albie Thomas broke the world record over two miles.
In fact the men’s 5000m is named in his honour and the Albie Thomas Memorial 5000m features some of Europe’s leading distance runners including reigning World University Games champion Jonas Raess from Switzerland, former World University Games champion Francois Barrer from France and Mike Foppen from the Netherlands who has improved to 13:25.89 this year.
But most of the domestic interest will be focused on the shorter distances and especially the men’s 800m in which Mark English arrives fresh from a last gasp victory in the Birmingham Diamond League when he moved from eighth to first in the last 100 metres to win in 1:45.94.
English, who will chase the IAAF World Championships qualifying time of 1:45.80 on Wednesday, will face opposition from German champion Marc Reuther as well as Slovenia’s Zan Rudolf and former world indoor bronze medallist Erik Sowinski who finished sixth in Birmingham behind English.
By contrast Ciara Mageean will be aiming for a better competitive outing than her last race in Gothenburg when she was one of three athletes to fall in the last 200 metres. The European indoor 1500m bronze medallist will contest the 800m again with opposition coming from fellow 1500m specialist Hanna Hermansson from Sweden as well as Olivia Baker – a 2:00.08 performer this year – from the United States.
With Mageean stepping down in distance, double European U18 champion Sarah Healy is the leading domestic name in the 1500m while her namesake Phil Healy will be looking to deliver a victory in front of her home crowd in the women’s 200m.