Barr siblings clear some major hurdles as Kelly Proper takes a fourth title
Mark English doubles up to show he has serious potential
Kelly Proper comes home to win the women’s 100m at the AAI senior track and field championships at Morton Stadium, Santry, Co Dublin. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Thomas Barr has been a class act for the last two years and the young man from Waterford illustrated his qualities as a 400 metre hurdler when he skipped over the barriers like a primed greyhound to win his third title at the Woodies AAI National Championships at Santry Stadium, Dublin yesterday.
Barr was a joy to watch as he skimmed over barrier after barrier to again underline his potential as a future major championship winner, winning with style in 49.78 seconds, the equal best of his career.
Conditions were anything but ideal but Barr had the confidence to attack from the gun to electrify the arena, inspiring Jason Harvey of Crusaders to break new ground with a lifetime best of 50.13 to claim a wonderful silver medal.
However Barr had an even higher target on his mind, like Tom McGuirk’s national record of 49.73 which has stood since 1996. “The competition was good and the race was really good but perhaps if I had a bit more to chase down the straight the record might have come” said the Ferrybank clubman.
And not for the first time Thomas had to share the spotlight with his sister, Jessie Barr, who was also in a league of her own to retain her title in style with 57.48 seconds, skipping well clear of Mandy Gault from Lagan Valley to win by more than a full second in 57.48 seconds.
However the Barr’s were not the only shining lights at the championships and we saw another potential European senior gold medallist in the future in Mark English, the Donegal middle distance runner. Last Friday night the 20-year-old closed down on the leaders at the finish of the 800 metres and yesterday he attempted to show that he can also be competitive in the 400 metres.
English nearly did it and came up with a splendid effort in an event well short of his best, clocking 47.27 when just losing out to established 400m runner in Brian Murphy with a time of 47.14.
Paul Robinson is one of many excellent up and coming young athletes, especially in the middle distances, and he looked a class act too when showing improved leg speed to win the 800 m gold medal in 1:48.92.
In fact the championships were almost a benefit for the Ferrybank club as their athletes won medals all over the stadium with Kelly Proper making it four titles in all , winning the 100 metres to add to the three she collected on Saturday.
Marcus Lawlor went into the 200 metres on Saturday with a rapidly expanding reputation following a series of top times but he found Steve Colvert of Crusaders just too strong in the closing stages, victory going to the Dubliner in 21.13.
Both 1,500 m title races were good with contrasting tactics. Laura Crowe from Kerry went all out to make the world championship standard but it was an impossible task with no one to help her but ran with courage to win the title in 4:13.96. The men’s race for the gold saw Eoin Everard out kick David McCarthy but he can run much faster.
Proper, the highly popular Waterford woman, proved her supreme fitness and stamina when she won three gold medals on Saturday afternoon, making a winning mark early in the long jump, then outgunned her opponents in the final of the 200 metres before linking up with her Ferrybank team-mates to turn the 4x100m relay into a procession.
Two of the country’s most popular distance runners, Maria McCambridge and Mark Kenneally, applied their reserves of stamina to telling effect when they ran their opponents ragged with successful execution of the women’s 5,000 metres and the men’s 10,000 m titles, respectively.