Freezing Olympic qualification until December is the right move, insists Phil Healy

April 18th, 2020 9:30 AM

By Kieran McCarthy

Phil Healy during a training session at Ballinesker Beach in Wexford.

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PHIL Healy has welcomed the announcement by World Athletics that the Olympic qualification period has been suspended until December.

The Ballineen sprinter was on track to qualify for this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo before the Covid-19 pandemic forced the postponement of the Olympics until July 2021.

Healy looked nailed-on to book her spot in the 200m at the Tokyo Games as she was comfortably inside the top 30 in the world rankings, with the top 56 qualifying for the Games.

Until World Athletics announced that no standards achieved between April 6th and November 30th will count towards the delayed Olympics, Healy was in limbo, but now she has clarity on the the qualification process for the delayed Games.

She knows that the qualification window will open again on December 1st and run until June 29th, 2021, with the Olympics starting on July 23rd, 2021.

‘After we got the official word that the Olympics were being postponed, the next question was how would they address the qualification process – and they’ve come up with a fair option where nothing counts from April until December. It gives no athlete an advantage over another,’ Healy told The Southern Star.

‘We are meant to have the European Athletics Championships at the end of August – they still haven’t been cancelled. Let’s say we got to compete at them, and that’s a high category event, but Americans obviously couldn’t compete, that’s not fair that we get that opportunity to boost our chances of qualification and they don’t. This keeps the playing field level.

‘This is a fair call to make. It freezes where it is from now, and that’s good for us because it means that indoor still counts.’

Healy is coming off a terrific indoor season that saw her smash the Irish indoor 200m record and set a new national indoor championship 200m record, and she will keep the ranking points she accrued there.

‘I still have the points I had on the board before all this happened,’ she explained.

‘One of the rules is that you hold your last area championships, so that for me is the European Championships. With the Olympics now in 2021, we would have taken our points from the 2020 Europeans but that’s not allowed now so I will still hold my points from the 2018 Europeans. I got massive points there, including bonus points because I finished in the top 16, in 11th, so I’m glad of the announcement. It leaves me in the same position and we’ll just pick it up again in next year’s indoor season.’

Healy is training in Wexford these times, using a room in a local montessori school that’s been transformed into a gym for her. She’s still working hard, though not at the same intensity as before the Olympics were postponed.

There remains the possibility that Healy will have competitions later in the year, including the Irish outdoor championships as World Athletics have set aside the weekend of August 8th and 9th for national championships. World Athletics president Sebastian Coe also hasn’t ruled out holding a belated outdoor season from August to October.

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