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James McIlroy launches a comeback in Belfast next month

James McIlroy
James McIlroy won the Irish Indoor 800m title two years ago

James McIlroy is set to launch a comeback by competing at next month's Woodie's DIY Irish Indoor Athletics Championship in Belfast.

McIlroy, an Olympic 800m semi-finalist in 2000, surprisingly quit the sport two years ago shortly after competing at the World Indoor Championships.

A little over a month earlier, McIlroy had impressively won the 800m title at the Irish Indoors.

McIlroy is 33 but clearly believes he has unfinished business in the sport.

The Larne man is understood to have been putting in hard training over the last number of months and he has also put in appearances at various low-key local cross country and road racing meetings.

He even ran the New York Marathon last autumn when he clocked 2 hours and 47 minutes while he is understood to be currently training at Harvard in the US.

There will inevitably be speculation that he will attempt to qualify for a third Commonwealth Games after his outings in Manchester and Melbourne.

McIlroy finished sixth in the Commonwealth 800m final in Manchester in 2002 and then suffered a hugely disappointing first-round exit from the two lap event in Australia four years ago.

Ciara Mageean
Ciara Mageean will also be in action at the Odyssey Arena

The Larne man burst on to the athletics scene in his rookie season in 1998 when he clocked a world-class 1:45.32 and finished fourth in the European Championships.

After being guided by Ballymena & Antrim stalwart Sean Kyle for the early part of his career, McIlroy then switched to Kim McDonald in the summer of 1999, when he also opted change allegiance from Ireland to Great Britain.

McIlroy reached the semi-finals of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney but despite some impressive times in the following years, he was unable to make a significant impact in major championships.

However, his Northern Ireland record of 1:44.65, set in 2005, ranks him in the Great Britain all-time top 10.

Other athletes already signed up for the Odyssey meeting on 6/7 February include former world indoor 60m hurdles champion Derval O'Rourke and Commonwealth Games hopefuls Kelly McNeice and Kerry Harty.

McNeice achieved a Commonwealth Games qualifying time of 4:10.30 last summer.

Harty clocked a Northern Ireland 3000m record list 9:09.50 last June.

Ciara Mageean will also be aiming for a hat-trick of Irish Indoor titles next month.



see also
O'Rourke set for Irish Indoors
17 Dec 09 |  Athletics
Ohuruogu beaten in Irish Indoors
08 Feb 09 |  Athletics


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