No conditions for fast-running English at Morton Games

Irishman in fourth place as American Harris takes the honours in 800m

Mark English looks dejected after finishing fourth in the 800m behind American Isaiah Harris at the Morton Games at Morton Stadium in Dublin. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Mark English looks dejected after finishing fourth in the 800m behind American Isaiah Harris at the Morton Games at Morton Stadium in Dublin. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Some late summer evenings in Dublin can feel like a gift sent straight from the running gods but this was not one of them.

For Mark English in particular the Morton Games in Santry felt like a very long way from the searing heat of Doha. English was in town chasing one last shot at the 800 metres qualifying time for next month’s World Athletics Championships in Qatar, only to find the wet, windy and all round miserable conditions present a greater challenge than any time.

Having won the Birmingham Diamond League event on Sunday in 1:45.94, English was looking to hit the 1:45.80 standard necessary for Doha, and despite finishing strongly once again, had to settle for fourth place in 1:49.27. This was not an evening for fast running in any event.

Taking the win, like he did in Cork last week, was the American Isaiah Harris in 1:48.40, also well outside his best: English however is still in the running to make Doha through the qualifying rankings, for what would be a fourth successive World Championships for the Donegal doctor.

Ciara Mageean is already sure of her ticket to Doha in the 1,500m, and moved down the 800m to sharpen her speed, and perhaps have a shot at the sub-two minute barrier. Again the conditions had a major say: Mageean also got a little chopped coming down the backstretch, and like English ended up fourth in 2:01.92

“I felt strong coming into the second lap, but knew it would be hard coming round that last bend, with the wind,” said Mageean, who has a best of 2:00.79. The win went to the very fast-finishing Canadian Lindsey Butterworth in 2:01.33.

“That’s racing, getting little knocks like that,” added Mageean, “but delighted to race here, a great meeting on our doorstep, and I was hoping to give an Irish win, and am a bit disappointed with fourth. That two-minute barrier is a very special one, and it will take the right race, but I’ll keep on trying.”

Getting stronger

Phil Healy came properly close to providing an Irish win on the track, only to be edged out in the 200m by the American Kiara Parker. Running into a -2.2m headwind, Healy was in the lead coming off the straight, before Parker got in front in the last 50m winning in 23.94 to Healy’s 24.02.

“Really close,” said Healy, also qualified for Doha over 200m. “Conditions were far from ideal, but happy how that run felt, getting stronger all the time.”

Brian Gregan’s comeback race over 400m didn’t go as smoothly, as he only lasted 150m before a hamstring strain forced him to pull up, the win there going to the American Obi Igbokwe in 45.94, one of the few performances to defy the conditions.

The headline event the Morton Mile, first staged in 1970, also started in the hope of a first Irish winner since James Nolan in 2004, but that challenge never materialised after John Travers was tailed off midrace, while 2017 winner Robert Domanic finished impressively and closed out the evening with another win in 3:58.91, before the hot showers all round.

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