Olympic Last Chance Saloon: Irish Athletes Competing for Paris 2024 Qualification at the National Championships this Weekend

June 29, 2024

The Irish National Track and Field Championships this weekend are poised to be a make-or-break event for several Irish athletes aiming to secure their spots at the Paris 2024 Olympics. Each athlete has clear performance targets, and the stakes couldn't be higher. Here's a look at what they need to achieve and the challenges they face.

Nicola Tuthill - Women's Hammer Throw

Nicola Tuthill's path to improving her ranking is straightforward but competitive. She just needs to throw better than 66.43 metres to improve her ranking enhance and secure her Olympic qualification. However, the competition is fierce, as her Olympic hopeful rivals will likely be giving their best this weekend as well.

Sophie Becker - Women's 400m

Sophie Becker has set her sights on the Olympic standard, which is within her reach but remains a significant challenge. Sharlene Mawdsley and Rhasidat Adeleke have already claimed the first two out of the three spots available in the country quota for Ireland. To automatically qualify for Paris, Becker needs to clock 50.95 seconds in the 400m to meet the Olympic standard.

Another avenue open to her for qualification is by being within the quota left after the athletes who have gone sub-50.95. Currently, 33 of the 48 spots for the Olympic event have been taken by athletes who have met the Olympic standard, leaving 15 spots still available. Becker's Olympic qualification ranking is currently 46th, meaning she needs to leapfrog six athletes to reach the minimum 40th Olympic ranking, which is currently held by Mexico's Paola Morán. Achieving this would secure her a place on the coveted Olympic roster. However, this outcome will depend entirely on how other athletes perform this weekend.

Tom Barr - Men's 400m Hurdles 

Tom Barr is also chasing the Olympic standard, which is within his reach but remains challenging. He must achieve a time of 48.70 seconds in the 400m hurdles to qualify automatically for the Olympics. Unlike Sophie Becker, Barr is currently within the quota of athletes that remains after those who have gone sub-48.70, currently placed at 38th. However, his ranking position by the end of this weekend depends entirely on how other athletes perform at various events around the globe. Therefore, his position in the quota is precarious, and he would much prefer to qualify by hitting the Olympic standard, which would guarantee his ticket to Paris.  After the washout morning session in Geneva last Saturday that scuppered Barr's chances of hitting QT, weather will be a hugely important factor for Thomas.

 Cathal Doyle and Nick Griggs - Men's 1500m 

The men's 1500m race is set to be one of the most intriguing events. While Luke McCann is likely safe with his current ranking, the main battle will be between Cathal Doyle and Nick Griggs for Olympic qualification. The Olympic standard is 3:50.40, which neither athlete has met and is unlikely to meet. Doyle is currently ranked 43rd out of 45 in the Olympic standings outside that time, while Griggs is ranked 52nd, placing him just outside the Irish quota of three athletes. Griggs' time would have to go below 3.35:00 at the very least to stand a chance of going to Paris. This sets the stage for a fierce competition as both athletes vie for a spot in the Olympic roster.

Eric Favors - Men's Shot Put

Eric Favors needs to improve his performance in the men's shot put. His Olympic standard mark stands at a formidable 21.5 metres which he has not met. However he is placed 29th out of 32 competitor quota for Paris.  Favors' performance this weekend will be crucial in determining his Olympic prospects.

The Pressure and the Path Forward

The National Championships in Santry this weekend will be a high-stakes event for these athletes. The pressure to perform will be immense.

For athletes like Nicola Tuthill, even slight improvements can lead to significant advancements in rankings. For Sophie Becker and Tom Barr, chasing the Olympic standard is a realistic yet challenging goal. Meanwhile, Luke McCann's position appears secure, but Cathal Doyle and Nick Griggs must navigate a fierce battle for Olympic qualification. Eric Favors faces the daunting task of hitting a substantial Olympic standard mark in the shot put.

This weekend's performances will be pivotal as they attempt to secure their spot for the Paris 2024 Olympics. The Irish National Track and Field Championships represent the last chance saloon for many, making it a must-watch event for athletics enthusiasts.

Image: Perri Williams

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