Anna Boyle: Irish Sprint Queen

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Athletics: Brilliant Boyle surges to record glory at odyssey

By Colin McMullan

20 February 2006
Anna Boyle jets off to Melbourne today to hone her preparation for the Commonwealth Games as the queen of Irish indoor sprinting.

The Ballymena and Antrim club speedster was the star of the show in the Irish Indoor Championships at the Odyssey Arena yesterday.

The 22 year-old from the village of Dunloy stepped into her starting blocks to line up against the toughest opposition in Ireland … probably the highest quality field ever assembled for the 60 metres dash.

Drawn on Boyle’s right was Kilkenny’s Emily Maher, the reigning English AAA and Scottish champion, on her left was Leevale’s Ailis McSweeney, the Irish National record holder, and just to make it even more tough she had to contend with Ivory Coast champion Amandine Aliou Affoue.

Boyle posted her intentions in the semi-finals when she defeated Maher by the most slender of margins, clocking 7.38.

But Anna was saving the best for the final which she took in tremendous style - one blink and you would almost have missed it.

And that would have been a shame if you had, because Boyle provided the most authoritative display of speed ever witnessed by an Irish athlete indoors.

Anna crashed through the winning line timed at 7.32 - a new Irish National record, smashing to smithereens the existing record of 7.37 held until yesterday by her opponent Ailis McSweeney, who finished fourth.

Emily Maher was third on 7.36 and the only girl to seriously threaten Boyle’s dominance, Amandine Aliou Affoue, was runner-up with 7.34 … and she’s one of the best sprinters in Africa.

A triumphant Anna said: "I never expected to be selected for the Games as I was outside the standard, a wild card. Hopefully today I have proved the selectors made the right decision.

“Driving to the Odyssey this morning, when I stopped the mileage read 535 (5.35)… just dreaming really, but sometime you make these odd connections, but I’m delighted to have run such a fast time”

No such luck for another Ballymena and Antrim athlete, Paul Brizzel. His first venture with 400m ended in heats elimination on Saturday night and in yesterday’s 60m final he was edged out of glory by England’s Leon Baptiste, both runners timed at 6.83.

Belfast’s Joe McAlister set himself a hectic treble schedule a few weeks ago - the first leg was realised at Coleraine when the St Malachy’s athlete won the NI Senior Cross Country Championship, on Saturday night at the Odyssey Joe won the 3000 metres crown and the last leg is the Republic’s Cross Country title this weekend.

McAlister, who spent a bit of time in the United States, won his Odyssey title by clocking 8.16.96 over eight seconds ahead of his nearest rival.

The overseas stars didn’t let the side down - reigning World Outdoor champion Trecia Smith of Jamaica won the triple jump with 14.23m; Grenada’s World Indoor champion Alleyne Francique won the 400m with 46.19, but Jamaica’s World Outdoor silver medallist Delloreen Ennis-London was beaten by Ireland’s Derval O’Rourke in the sprint hurdles.