...but disppointment as her sister Joan misses out on Euros
PHIL Healy will spearhead the Irish challenge at the European Indoor Athletics Championships in Glasgow.
The Bandon AC sprint star was named on a 16-strong Irish team for the big event that will be held from March 1st to 3rd.
The recently crowned West Cork Sports Star of the Year produced another commanding run as she swept to gold in the 400m at the Irish Life National Indoor Championships in Abbotstown last Sunday week.
In her heat on Saturday, Phil eased to a 54.06 win, and she cranked it up for the final on Sunday as won in 52.81 after a dominant display that saw her race from the blocks and lead all the way, with over a second to spare over Sophie Becker in second place.
Phil goes into the Europeans ranked fourth in the women’s 400m this year with the 52.31 she ran in Vienna in Januarystill outside her PB of 52.08. On current form, she is a medal prospect.
Meanwhile there was disappointment for her older sister Joan who missed out on hitting the Euro indoor qualifying standard of 7.40 for the 60m last weekend. Joan ran 7.47 in her semi-final and repeated the same time in the final as she finished in fourth place and outside the medals.
But there was medal joy for Bandon AC’s Shane Howard who captured his first national senior title on Sunday with an unbeatable leap of 7.44m earning him the top prize in the men’s long jump.
‘I’ve won junior and U23 national titles before but this was my first at senior level,’ Shane (24) explained.
‘This is definitely a stepping stone in the right direction. My PB is 7.53 and I probably should have beaten it during the competition – but I was a bit dodgy on the board and should have done a bit better.
‘I want to push into the 7.50s, 7.60s and up to 7.70s and 7.80s by the end of the year.’
Six foot four inches tall, Shane is back on track following a couple of years of hamstring problems. That made him stop and re-evaluate, and under the guidance of his coach Liz Coomey, Shane changed his running mechanics last September – and it’s a move that is paying off.
‘I had two other indoor competitions before the nationals and we used them to see where I’m at because I changed my training a good bit in terms of technique and running because of the injuries,’ he explained.
‘I had to make big changes, so to win the national indoor title is a great boost right now and shows we’re on the right path.’
Shane stripped it all back to basics and concentrated on his speed and power through the runway and getting that phase up to scratch. His next target now is to focus on the board and his technique through the air to maximise his jump. Achieve that and he’s confident that he’ll hit a new PB as the season hits the outdoor circuit.
‘The 7.40 jumps that I am hitting are my par jumps. I am hitting bigger distances but I am just fouling at the board. It’s there for me. It’s about getting it down in paper now. If I can hit 7.70 or 7.80, I will be happy with that,’ Shane said.
‘I need to top up on all aspects – speed, strength, endurance – to keep progressing.’
His main goal this season is to qualify to represent Ireland at the European Team Championships at the end of the summer.
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