Ciara Mageean and Kerry O'Flaherty early into action in Belgrade
IT'S an early start this morning for Ireland's athletes on the opening day of the 34th European Indoor Championships in Belgrade.
Ireland has sent a team of 10 to the meeting that continues until Sunday afternoon.
The Serbian capital already has an important place in European indoor athletics history in that it staged the last edition of the predecessor of this event, the European Indoor Games, at the Belgrade Fair in 1969, when the late, great Noel Carroll took a bronze medal in the 800m.
Portaferry woman Ciara Mageean (right) looks like being Ireland's main, if not only, hope for a medal in what promises to be a red-hot cauldron of competition in the Kombak Arena.
Mageean is in the heats of the 1500m this afternoon (4.05pm) when she will be joined by Newcastle's Kerry O'Flaherty and Scottish gold medal favourite Laura Muir.
Before that, Phil Healy and Sinead Denny kick off the action for the Irish in the heats of the women's 400m this morning (8.45am). They are followed shortly by Brian Gregan, currently ranked number 10 in Europe, in the 400m preliminaries.
Zak Curran runs the heats of the 800m before North Down's Ben Reynolds makes an appearance for the first round of the 60m hurdles just after midday. Louth man Tomas Cotter (3000m) and John Travers (1500m) also compete in this evening's session.
However, there will be no Amy Foster in the 60m after the City of Lisburn athlete decided to remain in Australia and continue her preparations for the outdoor season in a warmer climate.