Ger O’Donnell takes to the track for his first race of 2021 later this afternoon, but admits training has been far from straight forward.
The Carrick-on-Shannon hurdler has the European indoor championships in his sights as he takes part in exquisitely named “Irish Life Health Elite Micro Meet” the first athletics event in the country since October.
Covid-19 level five restrictions saw the Irish indoor athletics season effectively cancelled, Athletics Ireland lobbying Sport Ireland to allow a one-off event giving the chance to Irish athletes to gain the qualification standard to next month’s Euro’s.
While back on the track; O’Donnell revealed he was unable to conduct his technical training until just a couple of weeks ago.
“Training has been going well, but access to facilities has been severally restricted” explained O’Donnell.
“I actually only got access to the track in Dublin about three or four weeks ago, It was basically a very strict list of those who were going to Tokyo or those who were sport Ireland carded”.
“Athletics Ireland were pushing hard to get that extended, but were hitting a brick wall with sport Ireland” added O’Donnell.
“Thankfully they were able to extend it out to those of us who were close to qualifying for the European indoors last year”.
“Getting back in there was great especially in the bad weather and getting into a safe environment when it was snowing” declared O’Donnell, “but particularly for me as I need to train over hurdles and practice coming out of the start blocks”.
“It’s only been the last couple of weeks, so it’s just nice to get a race in and see where I’m at form wise” added O’Donnell.
It will be difficult for O’Donnell to match his qualification for the 2015 European indoors where he needs to break 7.80 seconds, especially coming off such a short season and that just one man lines up against him!
“It’s going to be unusual overall” added O’Donnell with the races taking place behind closed doors.
“Most of the races this weekend there’s only two or three people in them. But I’m lucky Matthew (Behan) is racing, I thought he was going to retire from short hurdles last year”.
“He’s a good short hurdler, so there will be no issue in getting motivated for it, it’s just going to be unusual to only have two of us in the races” added O’Donnell.
In championship events sprinters and sprint hurdlers usually get the chance at two races a day, the heat or semi-final and final. The organisers of the micro meet arranging two races for some sprint events to try and give the athlete’s a better chance at gaining the Q mark.
“We’re getting two races in the day which is good, we could do five or six races a day as its 60m hurdles” joked O’Donnell.
“Two people in the race is not something you ever want, but I could be lining up on my own, so I’m thankful it’s not that!”