Just short of thirty Irish athletes made the journey across the water on Saturday for the annual Watford Grand Prix Meet held in conjunction with the British Milers Club. The meet which is often referred to as the ‘Watford Diamond League’ attracts some of the best talent and provides competitive and well seeded races. The Irish contingent included both seasoned international and domestic athletes.
Tokyo 2020 Olympian Mark English (Finn Valley AC) was one of the standout names on the start list for the Men’s 800m A Race. The national record holder had only raced once this season winning the 800m race at the IFAM Oordegem Meet in Belgium and was looking to make it back-to-back victories. Kyle Langford of Great Britain led the way for most of the race, however with 250m to go English made a move and gradually made-up ground. The Donegal man timed his move to perfection, gliding past Langford with 30m to go to win in a time of 1.46.42, a new Season’s Best. Rocco Zaman-Browne (Dundrum South Dublin AC), who recently declared to run for Ireland finished fifth in 1.47.86.
The Women’s 800m A race also saw an Irish winner. Jenna Bromell (Emerald AC) also timed her decisive move to perfection to take the win in a time of 2.03.82. Fifteen-year-old sensation Phoebe Gill of St. Alban’s AC finished second in 2.04.09, it might be worth remembering the name.
The Men’s 800m B race saw three Irish athletes in action. Zak Curran (Dundrum South Dublin AC) was fifth in 1.48.23, Mark Milner (Tullamore Harriers) was sixth in 1.48.46, while Conall Kirk (Annadale Striders) was eighth in 1.50.72.
Susie O’Flynn (Raheny Shamrocks AC) won the Women’s 800m E race clocking 2.14.08.
The 1500m races also saw some strong Irish performances. Shane Bracken (Swinford AC) ran a stunning Personal Best to finish fourth in the Men’s A race. Bracken who is currently studying at the University of Mississippi became the first Mayo man to break four minutes for the Mile earlier this year and continued his good run of form in Watford running 3.40.81.
Teenage sensation Nick Griggs (Mid Ulster AC) was the runaway winner of the B race. Griggs who has made a name for himself since claiming European U20 glory last summer in Estonia said afterwards he felt there was a quicker time in him had he ran in the A race, as he was left to essentially run solo for the final 600m on Saturday. His time of 3.42.72 was a new PB nonetheless and puts him fourth on the European U20 list so far this season.
Kieran Kelly (Raheny Shamrocks AC) and Mitchell Byrne (Rathfarnham) both ran in the C race. Kelly was seventh in 3.48.65, while Byrne finished tenth clocking 3.49.87. Mark Hanrahan (Ennis Track) was 15th in the D Race running 3.55.90.
The E race also saw a strong contingent of Irish athletes. Sean McGinley (Finn Valley AC) ran 3.55.03 for 11th. Cian Kelly (St. Abban’s AC) was 12th running 3.55.27, while Finley Daly (Sligo AC) was 16th in 4.03.96.
Part two of this review can be found here: https://www.irishrunner.ie/races-places/watford-gp-part-two-irish-athletes-produce-strong-performances-in-watford