Flanagan sets new NI record for 5,000m

Tyrone woman Roisin Flanagan opened her outdoor season in impressive style when she sliced almost half a second off her own Northern Ireland 5,000m record in California.

Flanagan, who hails from the hamlet of Rousky high in the Sperrins outside Omagh, stopped the timer at 15 minutes and 26.32 seconds.

That saw her finish seventh behind Lea Meyer who won in 15:06.39 with Ireland’s other representative Aoibhe Richardson back in 15th with a 15:50.76 timing.

Flanagan’s time also improved her own previous NI mark of 15:26.76 that she set at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham last summer.

The 26-year-old, along with her sister Eilish, is based in the United States having completed an athletics scholarship at Adams State University in Colorado.

She had only two previous reported outings this year, both over 3,000m indoors.

The Finn Valley club woman is soon set to return home to compete at this year’s Irish Seniors, while her main target for the summer is likely to be the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, which have a challenging qualification time of 14:57.00

Earlier, it was pleasing to see three Irish athletes competing at the Diamond League on Friday evening at the opening fixture in Doha.

Thomas Barr put in a sound performance in the 400m hurdles. Drawn in the solitude of lane eight, the Waterford athlete finished strongly to snatch seventh place on the run-in recording a time of 49.88 in breezy conditions.

That was slightly slower than his season-opener in Gabon a week ago when he clocked 49.79 seconds. USA’s Rai Benjamin was first across the line in a time of 47.48.

Sarah Lavin also showed she has wintered well despite finishing eighth in the women’s 100m hurdles with a time of 13.08.

The race was stacked with world class talent and won by Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico in 12.48 seconds.

Mark English turned in a below-par performance in the 800m.

The strong field spurned the efforts of the pacemaker Erik Sowinski to ensure a fast first lap coming through in outside 54 seconds, pedestrian at that level. English was never in contention for the victory.

He was adrift at the back with 200m to run but turned on the after-burners entering the homestraight to overtake two rivals for seventh spot in 1:48.56.

Algeria’s Slimane Moula timed his efforts perfectly to take the victory in 1:46.06 and mark himself out as a likely medallist at the World Athletics Championships this August. As for the three Irish surviving the first round may be challenging in Hungary.