Mark English Takes Third National Title
UCD Medicine student and European 800m bronze medallist, Mark English has begun this season in good form by winning the Irish National Championships in Athlone this weekend and by securing a season’s best time as he finished in sixth place in a Grand Prix meeting in Birmingham.
Having been named as Athlete of the Year and Track & Field Athlete of the Year at the Athletics Ireland 2014 National Awards last year, expectations have risen for the Donegal man and he didn’t disappoint this weekend.
A UCD Ad Astra Elite Athlete Scholar, Mark ran a season’s best of 1:47:17 at the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham on Saturday finishing in sixth place within a competitive field but more importantly securing the necessary qualifying time (1:48:50) for the Senior European Indoor Championships in Prague next month.
Although the third year medicine student didn’t have to reach this standard in Athlone the following day to secure the national title, he will be pleased to have put two good races back-to-back finishing with a fast last 400m. With tactics an important consideration in races over this distance, the Letterkenny native would also have been pleased to have prevailed in the GloHealth Senior Indoor Championships at Athlone Institute of Technology international Arena ahead of Declan Murray and defending champion Niall Tuohy in a time of 1:51:34.
“It was just about keeping control, up the home stretch, but yeah, I really wanted to practice that kick going down the backstretch, because it has to be decisive, when you run past guys like that, to kill their spirit. I’m trying to get used to doing that. And I felt good.”
This win is Mark’s third national indoor 800m title, having previously taken the title in 2011 at the Odyssey Arena, Belfast and the 2013 title also in Athlone. A respiratory infection forced him to withdraw from the event last year.
Mark opened his indoor season as part of an Irish distance medley relay team which broke the old DMR indoor world record at an invitational meeting in New York at the end of January 2015. However the Irish team had to be content with finishing second to their American hosts who smashed the 2008 record for the relay race which combines legs of 1,200m, 400m, 800m and 1,600m.
Despite not being thrilled with either his time or placing in Birmingham the previous evening, English will be pleased with his performance in Athlone to take the national title and will now begin to taper his preparations for Prague.
“I’m fitter than I’ve ever been, and it’s just about fine-tuning the speed now, and recruiting as many fast twitch muscle fibres as possible. My first race outdoors last year I ran 1:46:2, came fifth, and some guys beat that me I thought never would. Six days later I went out and ran 1:45.03. So I know what I need to do, and I’m just looking forward now to getting out to Prague, and give myself every chance.”
Post Race interview : Click here
Additional reporting with thanks to Ms Georgina Dwyer, UCD Sports Centre.