BY KIERAN McCARTHY
PHIL Healy is not getting in a sweat over the roasting high temperatures that await her at the World Athletics Championships in Doha.
This is her first outdoor senior World Championships and the Irish 100m and 200m record holder is straight in at the deep end as she will have to contend with temperatures in the sweltering high 30s and that can creep into the suffocating low 40s.
‘It’s going to be very hot alright and that’s why they have fixed all the events for the evening and night time when it will be a bit cooler at least,’ Healy explains.
‘Usually these World Championships are held in August but because Qatar was chosen as the hosts they’ve pushed them out to the end of September when it’s not as hot – but it’s still a lot warmer than we’re used to.’
Healy and her coach Shane McCormack spent a week in Nice recently for some warm-weather training that will stand to her for these championships that kick off this Friday, 27th, and run until Sunday, October 6th.
The first rounds of the women’s 200m get underway next Monday evening at 5pm local time at the Khalifa International stadium, which is air conditioned. If the Ballineen bullet progresses the semi-finals will be held on Tuesday night, starting at 9.35pm.
Events like the men’s marathon will start at midnight to avoid the heat, but the humidity will be another challenge that athletes will face, according to Steve Macklin, who is the former coach of Bantry AC’s Darragh McElhinney. Macklin is now the head coach of the Aspire Academy in Doha, and has been based there for the past 12 months.
‘The humidity can be in 60-80 per cent range in September which is the bigger issue,’ he says.
‘The stadium is air-conditioned so when the athletes step on the track it will feel fine. The warm-up, etc., beforehand will be done for the most part outside in the warm-up track.’
When Healy competed at the World University Games in Naples in July, the temperature was quite hot too, but nothing like she’s expecting in Doha this weekend.
‘You need to be ready for the heat and the humidity – and if you’re not, it will affect you,’ she says.
‘You need to tailor your warm-up routine and your preparation so that you have enough energy and you’re not any bit dehydrated. It’s about being sensible too.’
These World Championships are later than their usual August date, which has extended the season for all athletes, but Healy – an invite for the women’s 200m – is targeting a strong end to her season that was hampered by a broken foot suffered in a freak accident on a training camp in April. Twelve weeks after suffering the injury she was racing at the World University Games. She’s been competing regularly since and is good shape for the week ahead.
‘This is my first outdoor Worlds so I’m excited about this and it means I am up against the best in the world. These will be the same athletes that will be competing at the Olympics so it’s a chance to test myself against them,’ Healy says.
‘Getting to a semi-final would be great and that’s a target of course, but let’s say I run a 200m PB and don’t get to a semi-final, then I would be thrilled with that as well.
‘There are ranking points on offer too for the Tokyo Olympics qualification system so there’s a lot up for grabs if it goes well.’
It’s worth noting too that warm conditions suit sprinters and fast times, so Healy will hope to sizzle in the Qatar heat.