Amy Foster earns her 60m ticket to World Indoor Championships in Sopot

Kelly Proper increases her national indoor title tally to 16 by taking the 200m in Athlone

City of Lisburn’s Amy Foster takes the 60m final “A new PB, a qualifying time for Sopot, and a national title so I have to be very happy.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

City of Lisburn’s Amy Foster takes the 60m final “A new PB, a qualifying time for Sopot, and a national title so I have to be very happy.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho


Amy Foster

Minutes later she got her answer, Foster’s time rounded down to 7.32 – bang on the qualifying standard for the World Indoor Championships in Sopot, Poland in three weeks’ time. Having run 7.33 already this season, the difference was indeed profound.

That may have been the most significant performance of this weekend’s National Indoor Championships, once again perfectly staged at the Athlone Institute of Technology, although the most impressive performances were delivered by Kelly Proper: in winning the 200m yesterday – adding to her long jump title on Saturday – the Waterford athlete increased her tally of national indoor titles to 16, one more than previous Irish all-time indoor championship winner, race walker Robert Heffernan.

Indeed Proper’s winning time of 23.57 seconds in the 200m was another indoor personal best, and suddenly the outdoor season can’t come fast enough for the 25-year-old. “I knew the 200m was going well for me, and I know this is a fast track too,” she said.

“And I really hope now that I can transfer this form outdoors.”

Foster’s 7.32 – once it was rounded down – was also an indoor personal best, although the Lisburn athlete had to work hard for it, pressed to the line by the fast emerging junior Phil Healy from Bandon, who ran 7.37.

“A new PB, a qualifying time for Sopot, and a national title,” said Foster, “so I have to be very happy about that. My start wasn’t great, but I won’t be picky about that.”

The clock stopped on another significant time in the men’s 200m, when Carlow junior athlete Marcus Lawlor – still only 18 – was a clear winner in 20.19 seconds (again rounded down from 20.20).

Either way, that improved the Irish junior record, and not far off in second was another junior, 17-year-old Zac Irwin from Sligo, who ran an excellent 21.71.

Striking distance
Thomas Barr had one eye on the opposition and another eye on the clock when he lined up for the men’s 400m, having recently come within striking distance of the World Indoor qualifying mark of 46.80. In the end Barr needed to keep both eyes on the opposition, with Richard Morrissey dominating the opening lap, forcing Barr to come from behind, and in lane three, to eventually get past. While his time of 47.05 once again fell short, the victory was nonetheless impressive, his close rival Timmy Crowe sneaking through for the silver medal in 47.51.

Still, 47.05 is not bad for an athlete who specialises in the 400m hurdles: “I could see the clock ticking over as I came the line,” admitted Barr, “but the World Indoors were never originally in my plans, so it’s back into the hard training now for outdoors.”

In the distances races, David McCarthy duly underlined his form when coasting to victory in the 1,500m, easing up in 3:49.50 – having already qualified for the World Indoors. Mark English, also Sopot bound in the 800m, didn’t compete due to illness, although Niall Touhy produced a master class of tactical astuteness in his absence, the 24-year-old kicking for home two laps out, and holding off the challenge of two teenagers, Karl Griffin and Harry Purcell – Touhy’s winning time of 1:52.24 worth every split second.

Robert Heffernan dropped down from the 50km walk - or about 31 miles - to the one-mile walk at the Millrose Games in New York, and found himself just a little caught for pace as victory on the night went to Sweden’s Andreas Gustafsson, who was timed at 5:34.45 - just a second outside the indoor world record. Heffernan’s 5:39.75 will count as a new Irish indoor record.