Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Ireland - A Nation Of Sprinters?

An analysis of Ireland's performances at global championships (Olympics and Worlds) from 1983 to 2015 has thrown up some interesting statistics. One of interest to the hurdling community is the change in success from what was predominantly long and middle distance to sprints and hurdles.

In that time, there have been 21 global championship and recording the Top 16 placings of Irish athletes in each of those has shown that in the first 7 editions (1983 to 1995) sprinters and hurdlers achieved zero Top 16 placings. The middle 7 editions (1996-2004) saw a big improvement with sprints and hurdlers closing the gap on endurance (63% to 37%) while the last 7 global championships has seen sprints and hurdles overtake endurance (62% to 38%).

The graph below shows the comparison of Top 16 placing from Endurance to Sprints (& hurdles) relative to each other over the past 32 years. Is it safe to say now that Ireland has moved to be a nation of sprinters and hurdlers?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Royal Rumble Rankings - Top 10

Top 10 of the Royal Rumble Rankings.

#10 - Matthew Behan (Crusaders)
#9 - Timmy Crowe (Clonliffe)
#8 - Ben Kiely (Ferrybank)
#7 - Christine McMahon (Ballymena and Antrim)
#6 - Sarah Lavin (UCD)
#5 - Jason Harvey (Crusaders)
#4 - Gerard O' Donnell (Carrick-on-Shannon)
#3 - Paul Byrne (St Abbans)
#2 - Ben Reynolds (North Down)
#1 - Thomas Barr (Ferrybank)

Remainder of Top 40 for 2015 is here

Monday, August 31, 2015

European Youth Champs Present Great Opportunity

The first European Youth Championships takes place next year in Georgia and the European Athletics qualifying standards are here in this link. The hurdle standards are very attainable for several of our athletes who are U18 or U17 next season.

Boys 110H 14.55
Boys 400H 55.90
Girls 100H 14.25
Girls 400H 63.00

Hopefully common sense will prevail and Irish standards will not be tinkered with and will be left as proposed by European Athletics. Getting more athletes exposure at International level will hopefully address the concerning lack of depth we have seen recently in the Irish senior teams in Beijing and Moscow before that and also the Irish Junior teams in the 2012 and 2014 World Junior championships.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

2015 Royal Rumble Rankings

The end of season is here so here is the 2015 Royal Rumble Rankings. To start, its from 40 to 11 with the Top 10 to follow in the coming days.

40 - Eoin Power
39 - Eoin Kelly
38 - Shannen Dawkins
37 - Oisin Fitzpatrick
36 - Adam Hill
35 - Tim Bowler
34 - Naomi Morgan
33 - Sarah Connolly
32 - Rachel Dunne
31 - Darren Prout
30 - Michael Bowler
29 - Tom Reynolds
28 - Clodagh O' Mahoney
27 - Josh Essuman
26 - Joe Halwax
25 - Jessica Neville
24 - Leanne Prout
23 - Korough Foroughi
22 - Ciaran Barnes
21 - David McCarthy
20 - Andrew Creamer
19 - Niamh Malone
18 - Evan McGuire
17 - Kelly-Ann Doyle
16 - Simon Taggart
15 - Kate McGowan
14 - Brandon Arrey
13 - Garbhan McKenna
12 - Nessa Cooper Millet
11- Catherine McManus

Top 10 to come later.......

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Reynolds The Underdog But He Usually Beats Guys He Shouldn't

Ben Reynolds opens his account in Beijing in a matter of hours (4:47am). He is drawn in Heat 4. There are 5 heats with 4 from each heat progressing to the semi-final along with the 4 fastest losers. He is 7th fastest in the heat so while it will be very challenging to progress, he has regularly proven to be able to beat the startlist.

Here is a look at his rivals.

Greggmar Swift (BAR)
PB & SB  13.28
World University Games champ and Pan-Am Games 4th this season.

Jhoanis Portilla (CUB)
PB & SB 13.30
5th in the Pan-Am Games and ran his PB only 3 weeks ago

Hansle Parchment (JAM)
PB 12.94 SB 13.08
Olympic Bronze medalist from London 2012, #10 on All-Time list.
Has raced in 2 months so uncertain on his form or condition

Milan Ristic (SRB)
PB & SB 13.50
Serbian record holder but form has dipped since he ran that in May not going under 13.70 since.

Aleec Harris (USA)
PB and SB 13.11
Ran his PB in Paris in ealy July. Probably the form man in the heat but it is his first major championships.

Nicholas Hough (AUS)
PB & SB 13.41
Ran his PB when winning the Australian Championship in March. Since the European season has started has struggled to get back to that level but say a return somewhat in Leuven 3 weeks ago with 13.64.

Mathias Buhler (GER)
PB 13.34 SB 13.43
His PB comes from 2012 and has been inconsistent this season and despite having a faster SB than Reynolds he is beatable.

Calling it, it looks like Harris, Swift and Portilla. The 4th spot should be Parchment but, it may be wishfull thinking, there is some element of doubt as he hasn't raced sinced June. If Reynolds gets a PB, I would suspect he will be in the hunt for a semi-final spot.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Barr Goes Down Fighting But Ultimately Falls Just Short

Thomas Barr bowed out of the World Championship semi-finals today when finishing fourth in his semi-final in 48.71, his 2nd fastest time ever and 0.05 off his own Irish record. He finished 11th overall. He is only 23 and to put that in context our two greatest hurdlers of recent years, Derval O' Rourke and Susan Smith, were both 28 before they did better than that on an outdoor global stage. By the time he is 28, it will be the 2020 Olympic Games, his best years are ahead of him.
But not to get stuck into the looking down the track and into the future too much and to focus on and celebrate the now, he went down fighting. He attacked the first half of the race like never before and while this may have dimmed his withering run off the last somewhat he was still brave and attacking that last and picking off those with a bigger lactic bear on their backs.
He pushed 13 strides to hurdle 6, transitioned to 14 strides at hurdle 7 and he suggested he had to reach somewhat to keep his pattern at hurdle 8. His last hurdle was strong and brave and while Tumuiti and Clement were probably uncatcheable it looked like he would take Chalyy on the line. It was not to be and it was 4th in 48.71. With only two fastest loser spots and two semi-finals to come it was going to be a big ask to expect him to hang on. As it happened it took four PBs in the next semi (including three Europeans) to knock him out. The final semi-final had European Champion Kariem Hussein only managing third and also losing out.
From an Irish sprinter/hurdler perspective, Barr has been exposed to such tenacious competition where he is in the mix and a contender at a very early age. Considering the learnings he took from his 'failure' in Zurich 12 months ago, there is no doubt he will learn and build from this and be even stronger again 12 months from now. Just in time for Rio.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Barr Ticks The Box And Moves To World Semi-Final

In some ways watching the Thomas Barr's heat today was like that episode of Only Fools And Horses (forward to about 1:40) where a women is being mugged by a gang. It isn't looking good but then out of shot initially and then through the fog come Batman and Robin (or Delboy and Rodney) to save the day.

Drawn in Lane 9, and eaten up early by Yasmani Escobor, Barr was out of shot as all sorts of carnage was taking place off the tenth and in the middle lanes with pre-championship favourite Bershawn Jackson (he goes by the nickname Batman by the way) messing up his stride pattern and chickening out of his last hurdle attack and losing all momentum.

There was a second or two where breaths were held as the now customary run-in charge didn't look like it was coming but thankfully it did and it brought Barr from probably 7th to 3rd in the space of 30metres to claim an automatic qualifier.

While the lane draw has not been good for the semi-final, lane 9, his draw of rivals has and Barr should have no fears as he enters the arena tomorrow. Full line is Barr, Clement (USA), Magi (EST), Whyte (JAM), Tumuiti (KEN), Lahoulou (ALG), Bultheel (BEL) and Chalyy (RUS). He has beaten 4 of those guys this season (Magi, Lahoulou, Bultheel, Chalyy) while has a faster SB than Whyte and Tumuiti. Only two will progress to the final so it will be cut-throat and the field is very evenly matched.

Clement will start as favourite while Magi is probably the next based on his PB two weeks ago at the Estonian Championships. There has been a Kenyan breakthrough at these championship over hurdles and as a result Tumuiti cannot be ruled out while Jamaican Whyte is a phenomenal consistent performer. In fact any 2 from 7 could go through with Bultheel the one likely not to figure.

So, for tomorrow don't panic if he isn't in the box seat as he enters the home straight but he will need to ensure he is within shouting distance off the last to unleash that withering kick.