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Rio 2016 Athletics Ireland Day 1 Report

Rio Olympics - Athletics Ireland Day 1 Report

Rio de Janeiro, Friday August 12th 2016

 Alex Wright


Athletics Ireland report by Feidhlim Kelly

English Sails Through to Olympic Semi-Final

Mark English (UCD) put in an impressive display to qualify automatically for the semi-finals of the 800m finishing third in heat 6 in 1:46.40 at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro today (August 12).

English ran an excellent tactical race to come through the field and finish in the top three automatic qualifying positions. Brandon McBride (Canada) won the heat in 1:45.99 with European silver medallist Marcin Lewandowski (Poland) second in 1:46.35.

“You have to trust your own race plan and preparation went really well in Uberlandia,” said a composed English afterwards. The Irish team had a training camp in Uberlandia and arrived to the Village three days before the Championships. “The weather was good in Uberlandia and I practiced getting up early in the morning to get ready for the race.”  

The race was on at 10:55am Irish time and pre-race nerves provided the perfect adrenaline rush for the UCD medical student on his Olympic debut.

“I was nervous beforehand but you want that adrenaline,” said English who runs in the semi-final tomorrow (August 13th) at 22:05 Brazilian time and 2:05am Irish time.

“I treated that race like a final. I’ll need to run 1:44 to make the final.”


Battling Performance by Wright on Olympic Debut

Alex Wright (Leevale) put in a battling performance on his Olympic debut to finish 46th in the men’s 20km race walk in 1:25:25 in Rio de Janeiro today (August 12).

The race was won by Zhen Wang of China in 1:19:14. Wright was slightly disappointed with his performance but all his training is geared towards the 50km next Friday (August 19).

“I’m slightly disappointed with the result but all my training is geared towards the 50km next week,” said Wright afterwards. “This was difficult today. I wasn’t fully in control but I ground it out. I’ve been quite nervous all week. I feel more confident for next week and know what’s to come for next week. I’ll take the positives out of today.”

The 1km circuit proved problematic but will be extended to 2km next week. “It was a bit of mayhem at the start but it’s going to be exciting next week competing alongside the boys (Robert Heffernan and Brendan Boyce).  

This was a good step forward for Wright who was disqualified at the World Championships in Beijing last summer. “It was important to post a good result and this will bring me on. I dreamed of being an Olympian since I was a kid so it’s a special moment.”

Mageean shows her class to advance to semi-final

Ciara Mageean (UCD) showed her class to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s 1500m finishing second in her heat in 4:11.51 on day 1 of the athletics at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Mageean cut a focused and determined figure afterwards in a race won by Ethiopia’s gold medal favourite Genzebe Dibaba in 4:10.61. “If I didn’t think I’d qualify, I wouldn’t be here,” answered Mageean on qualifying for the semi-finals which take place on day 3 (August 13) at 21:30 Brazil time/1:30am Irish time.

The Portaferry woman was pleased with her performance and also drew inspiration from the silver medal-winning rowing brothers Paul and Gary O’Donovan. “It was great to see them medal and gives more motivation to perform at this level. I ran my own race and I just need to stay focused for the semi-finals.”


Full Olympic Athletics Schedule, including Irish Athletes timetables

Rio Olympics - Athletics Day 2 - Saturday, August 13th, 13:30


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