All eyes on Budapest

August 18, 2023

Team Ireland faces a busy opening day at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary on Saturday (August 19)

First up is David Kenny in the 20km walk followed by Eric Favors in the shot put qualification round, Kate O’Connor in the heptathlon, Ciara Mageean, Sarah Healy and Sophie O’Sullivan in the 1500m heats, and then the mixed 4 x 400m qualifying round.

Later in the day, Andrew Coscoran, Luke McCann and Nick Griggs go in the opening round of the men’s 1500m when the mixed 4 x 400m and the men’s shot put final also takes place.

On Sunday, Rhasidat Adeleke opens her 400m campaign along with Sharlene Mawdsley, while Chris O’ Donnell lines out in the men’s 400. Kate O’Connor completes her heptathlon. The men's and women’s 1500m semi-finals take place in the evening.

Adeleke will most likely turn out in the women’s 400m semi-finals on Monday, while on Tuesday Sarah Lavin in the 100m hurdles and Mark English and John Fitzsimons in the men’s 800m start their campaigns. With luck, Ireland will have at least one qualifier for the women’s 1500m final that evening.

Louise Shanahan lines out in the 800m heats on Wednesday, while on Thursday, Brendan Boyce competes in the 35km walk in the morning and Brian Fay in the 5000m qualifier that evening; the final is on Sunday along with the women’s 800m and women’s 4 x 400m finals.

With standards sky high and records falling, helped not a little by more advanced shoe technology and wave light pacemaking, Ireland’s hopes of winning a medal are slim. Irish track records may have tumbled, but track times generally are faster over the past two seasons.

Rhasidat Adeleke’s Irish record of 49.20 secs may well be the fourth fastest this season, but she would be the first to acknowledge that she’s still ‘learning’ her event. A total of eleven women have gone under 50 seconds this season, most notably Sydney McLaughlin Levrone of the USA and Marileidy Paulino of the Dominican Republic. At the very least, Adeleke should make the semi-finals.

In both men's and women’s 1500m races, Ireland has the full quote of three athletes. Leading the three women is Ciara Mageean, now aged 31 and in the form of her life over the past two seasons. Mageean’s time of 3:58.28 is the 13th fastest this season, which means she should progress from the opening round.

She’s competing in an event where double world and Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon of Kenya not only leads the rankings but looks like a safe bet to take a third world title after running 3:49.11 in Florence last June. Also running are Sarah Healy, who ran 4:01.75 in June, and Sophie O’Sullivan who won the European U23 title last month in a personal best 4:07.18 memorably beating Healy into second place.

Last month at the Silesia Diamond League meet, Andrew Coscoran set an Irish 1500m record of 3:30.42 to finish fourth in the race, putting him thirteenth fastest in the world this year. Race winner that evening in a personal best 3:27.14 was the 22-year-old Norwegian Jakob Ingebrigtsen, the defending world champion. Also running are Luke McCann of UCD AC with a season’s best time of 3:36.09 and 18-year-old Nicholas Griggs of the Belfast Candour club, a late addition to the team after winning silver in the 3000m at the European U20 Championships.

In the 100m hurdles, 34-year-old Mia Ali of the USA, the 2019 world champion, is top-ranked with a time of 12.30 secs. Sarah Lavin will be hoping – at the least – for an Irish record after coming close with a time of 12.67 in Berne on 4 August; Derval O’Rourke’s record, set in 2010, stands at 12.65. Lavin, now 29, has eight national 100m hurdles titles to her credit dating back to 2013 and also won the 100m at this year’s National Championships.

For Brian Fay in the men’s 5000m, breaking 13 minutes in the 5000m is a realistic goal. Fay’s time of 13:01.40 set in Belgium last month came close, but a lot will depend on how the race is run. Ethiopia’s Berihu Aregawi tops the rankings with a time of 12:40.45, but when medals are at stake, tactics come into play.

Go Ireland!

Irish team


400m - Rhasidat Adeleke (Tallaght AC), Sharlene Mawdsley (Newport AC)

800m - Louise Shanahan (Leevale AC)

1500m - Ciara Mageean (City of Lisburn AC), Sarah Healy (UCD AC), Sophie O’Sullivan (Ballymore Cobh AC)

100m H - Sarah Lavin (Emerald AC)

Heptathlon - Kate O’Connor (Dundalk St Gerard’s AC)

4 x 400 - Adeleke, Mawdsley, Sophie Becker (Raheny Shamrock AC), Roisin Harrison (Emerald AC), Kelly McGrory (Tir Chonaill AC), Niamh Murray (Bray Runners AC)


400m - Chris O’Donnell (North Sligo AC) John Fitzsimons (Kildare AC)

1500m - Andrew Coscoran (Star of the Sea AC), Luke McCann (UCD AC), Griggs (Belfast Candour RC)

5000m - Brian Fay (Raheny Shamrock AC)

Shot - Eric Favors (Raheny Shamrock AC)

20km walk - David Kenny (Farranfore Maine Valley AC)

35km W - Brendan Boyce (Finn Valley AC)

Mixed 4 x 400m

Callum Baird (Ballymena and Antrim AC), Jack Raftery (Donore Harriers), Chris O’Donnell (North Sligo AC), Roisin Harrison (Emerald AC), Sophie Becker (Raheny Shamrock AC), Sharlene Mawdsley (Newport AC)

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