Irish Athletes In Solid Shape Following World Indoor Championships

March 04, 2024

Ireland sent a ten-strong team for the short hop across the pond to fly the flag at the 2024 World Indoor Championships. Glasgow was the home for the track stars who battled it out with the best from across the globe which was closely followed back home with the welcomed Virgin Media coverage.

Sharlene Mawdsley kicked off proceedings on Friday morning with a 52.23 to send her into the 400m semi final. The fastest man in the country Israel Olatunde produced a season best 6.70 in his 60m heat which briefly put him in the backstage waiting area. It ultimately wasn't enough to see the U.C.D sprinter progress but with his fourth major Championship in as many years, he's "fully charged for the outdoor season".

Fellow U.C.D star Sarah Healy put in a gutsy performance in her 1500m semi final showdown before disappointingly stumbling metres from the line following a strong surge for home. 

"I felt great and totally in control until about the last 50 metres. I think I was just too impatient and wanted to be at the front."

Healy who broke the Irish 3000m indoor record in Metz last month certainly didn't look out of place while rubbing shoulders with the quality opposition which should make for an exciting 2024 for the Monkstown runner.

Sharlene Mawdsley was the talk of the evening schedule when she was controversially disqualified despite a tremendous third place finish in her semi-final with a time of 52.16. The bombshell dropped late on Friday night that the Newport AC runner wouldn't be taking her spot in the final due to an infringement on the final bend with Austria's Susanne Gogl Walli.

It was a huge blow for Mawdsley following what was a powerful performance. Athletics Ireland's Director of High Performance Paul McNamara commenting "Contact in 400m indoor running is part and parcel of our sport. It’s perfectly normal and to be expected." An Irish counter appeal was unsuccessfully denied by the judges. 

She expressed her disappointment but thanked the Irish fans for their support.

"I want to thank every person who messaged me since last night. It no longer felt like an individual sport, and that support being there when I needed it was extremely special."

That meant Roisin Flanagan was the sole representative on Saturday's schedule. The Finn Valley AC runner produced a magnificent PB of 8:53:02 while finishing in 15th in the 3000m final. The Colorado scholar spoke after the race saying;

"I knew coming in that these athletes had very fast personal bests, so I wanted to run smart and give myself a chance of running a personal best which is what I’ve done, so I have to be happy with that. I was hoping for a little bit faster, especially in that standard of race, but I was pretty dead by the end of it so I’m happy I gave it my all."

Sunday saw Sarah Lavin sail through heat 1 of the 60m Hurdles in a PB of 7.90. This was followed by equaling that PB again to book her place in the final that evening. A tough field awaited the Emerald AC athlete who gallantly crossed the line in 5th with a 7.91 against the likes of Devynne Charlton who set a new 7.65 World Record.

Phil Healy, Sophie Becker, Roisin Harrison and Sharlene Mawdsley made up the 4x400m relay team who sensationally broke the Irish National Record with a 3:28:45 to send them into the evenings final. Mawdsely spoke after the race saying;

"I had my redemption today and I'm walking away this evening as a world finalist."

The final saw her clock the second fastest leg from the entire field with only Lieke Klaver of the eventual winning Netherlands team running quicker. Team Ireland ran out in 5th place with a final time of 3:28:92 not far behind their earlier record that day. 

With several notable absences from the remaining cream of Irish track talent not making the trip to Scotland, it will certainly make for an exciting and intriguing few months in the lead up to the Olympic centre stage in Paris.