MARK English officially confirmed his place at the Olympic Games with a new Irish 800m record.

In his fifth world class run over the last 16 days, the Finn Valley AC man clocked 1:44.71 in Spain to beat the automatic qualifying mark of 1:45.20.


The time saw English finish third at the Trofeo Diputación Memorial Cansino and nailed his spot in Tokyo.

English was second behind Algerian Yassine Hethat, also Tokyo-bound after a 1:44.25 performance.

The 28-year-old has been in stunning form over the last couple of weeks, but still had enough in the tank to break David Matthews’ long-standing Irish record.

Since September 1995, Matthews’ 1:44.84 has stood, but now English has achieved another of his career goals.

Earlier this year, he said: “I know that I’m in the shape to break it. I just need to get into the right race in the next two or three months.”

At the Gaetá Huguet athletics track in Castelló, English produced the goods and will now not have to rely on his world ranking to get him on the plane to Tokyo.

It has been coming for the three-time European medalist though.

A blistering run in Madrid 10 days ago, when he ran a 1:45.22 that represented his fastest time since 2014 and his fifth-fastest of all-time, outlined his class.

This evening’s run was English’s fifth top-level race in the last 16 days.

After a minor injury forced his withdrawal from events in Hengelo and Göteborg, English ran a fine 1:45.70 to win at Sollentuna, Sweden on June 13, a race that began a whistle-stop tour of athletics meets around Europe.

At Meeting Madrid, English was a just 0.02 seconds off the automatic Olympic qualifying time, running 1:45.22 at Estadio Vallehermoso for a second-place finish.

After winning in Karlstad last Tuesday, English was third in Leverkusen on Sunday.


Meanwhile, at the Spitzen Leichtathletik Luzern in Lucerne, Switzerland, Dempsey McGuigan (Finn Valley AC) finished fourth in the men’s hammer. McGuigan reached out to a best of 68.14m. The event was won by Tristan Schwandke from Germany, who threw out to 74.66m.

Also in Lucerne, Eilish Flanagan from Gortin in Co Tyrone gave her hopes of an Olympic spot a massive boost with a huge performance. Flanagan’s late entry to the race was sealed through the influence of former Irish Athletics Team Manager Patsy McGonagle.

Flanagan was second in the women’s 3000m steeplechase and her time of 9:42.71 may well be enough to get her above Japan’s Reimi Yoshimura.



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