Olympic hopefuls lay down a marker

The race to represent Ireland at this year's Olympics is heating up
The race to represent Ireland at this year's Olympics is heating up

The battle to represent Ireland in the Olympic marathon in Rio next August has dramatically intensified in the wake of today’s Seville Marathon.

Raheny Shamrock’s Mick Clohisey sliced 25 seconds off his personal best when finishing tenth in the Seville event in 2:15.10 which now means he is the second fastest Irish male qualifier for Rio.

Leading the pack is Kevin Seaward on 2:14.52 but Clohisey’s run has seen him overtake Sergiu Ciobanu who was in second place with a personal best of 2:15.14.

Ciobanu, who has indicated that he doesn’t plan to run a Spring marathon, is now third in the rankings with Paul Pollock fourth in 2:15.38.

Five other marathoners, Martin Fagan, Gary Thorton, Thomas Frazier, Sean Hehir and Eoin Callaghan have all run under the 2.19 standard.

With the exception of Fagan – who was retired – the other four are virtually certain to try and improve their time and get into the top three before the June cut-off date. Seward and Pollock have indicated that they plan to pace each other in the London Marathon.

Meanwhile, while Gladys Ganiel (2:38.53) and Barbara Sanchez (2:39.49) both comfortably ran inside the Olympic standards of 2:45.00 in Seville,  they failed to make it into the top three position which are currently held by Lizzie Lee (2:32.51), Fionnuala McCormack –formerly Britton (2:33.15) – and Breege Connolly (2:37.29).

At the Millrose Games in Madison Square Garden, New York on Saturday night Ciara Mageean continued her excellent spring form when she set a new Irish women’s mile indoor record of 4:28.40 when finishing sixth in the Wannamaker Mile.

She sliced 1.66 seconds of the previous record set by Roisin McGettigan in 2009. Two weeks ago Mageean set a new Irish 1500m indoor record.

For the first time since the 1948 Olympics in London Ireland will have a diver competing in the Olympics Games later this year.

Twenty three old English born Oliver Dingley qualified for the Rio Olympics at a World Cup event in the host city today.

A bronze medallist for the UK at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 he switched allegiance to the Republic later that year.

His grandmother who hails from Spike Island in Cork now resides in Kent but through her he is eligible to compete for Ireland.

His disillusionment with his native country arose from an incident prior to the Olympics Games in 2012 when after finishing second at the UK Olympic trials he was overlooked for selection with the diver who finished third getting the nod instead.