Mark English books Paris ticket with Finland run

The Donegal man set a new Irish 800m record in the process

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Mark English is Paris-bound after breaking the Irish 800m record

MARK English assured himself of a place at a third Olympics when he set a new Irish 800m record in Finland on Tuesday night.

Running in the Paavo Nurmi Games in Turku, the Donegal man recorded a time of 1:44.69, a mere hundredth of a second inside the Olympic qualifying time.

That also improved his own national record of 1:44.71, set in Castellón, Spain three years ago.

The 31-year-old doctor finished second in the race behind long-time rival Andreas Kramer who recorded a time of 1:44.65. The Swede took the silver medal at the 2018 Europeans when English took the bronze.

The race marked a remarkable turnaround in form for English, who failed to get beyond the first round of the 800m at the European Athletics Championships in Rome earlier this month.

Otherwise, it was a mixed night for Irish athletes who were looking for Olympic qualifying standards in advance of the deadline on 30 June.

National champion at the distance Cathal Doyle and fellow Dubliner Luke McCann went one-two in a quality 1500m, recording times of 3:34.09 and 3:34.32. It was a personal best for Doyle but both remain shy of the 3:33.50 Olympic mark, although they improved their chances of being among those to qualify for Paris through the rankings for the year.

With Andrew Coscoran already qualified, Doyle and McCann now look to have dashed the Olympic dreams of Nick Griggs, whose best remains 3:35.40, although the Tyrone teenager still has until the end of the month to pull something out of the hat.

Sarah Lavin was disappointed with her eighth place in the recent Europeans but bounced back to record her fastest time of 2024 recording a 12.66 second mark in the final of the 100m hurdles. The Limerick athlete already had the Olympic time of 12.77 seconds from the semi-finals at the Europeans.

It looks like Rio Olympics finalist Tom Barr has more work to do after a 49.46 second clocking for fourth place in the 400m hurdles.

Winner of the race was Estonia’s Rasmus Magi in 48.42. The Waterford man is still well outside 48.70 qualifying time and the 40 places for the event in Paris, which is surprising given the speed he showed in the flat 400m as part of Ireland’s gold medal mixed relay team at the Europeans.

Paris still appears a long way off for Belfast-based Louise Shanahan after a 10th place finish in the 800m albeit in a seasonal best of 2:02.59, over three seconds slower than the Olympic mark of 1:59.30. Slovakia’s Gabriela Gajanová took the victory in 1:59.57.

The scramble for qualifying marks continues on Wednesday evening with Irish athletes Paul Robinson (1500m), J Dunne (1500m), Laura Mooney (5000m), and Finley Daly (3000m S/C) competing in Bilbao, while Jody McCann (5000m), Cillian Kirwan (800m) and Sam Healy (long jump) are all in Oslo.