Irish eyes smiling on Gault

Mandy Gault. Picture: Paul Jacobs (131421-15)
Mandy Gault. Picture: Paul Jacobs (131421-15)
Anja Fairbairn. Picture: Paul Smith

Masters title has Anja set fair for next target

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CITY of Portsmouth’s Mandy Gault gave Athletics Ireland selectors plenty to think about after winning the Irish national title at the weekend.

The 400m hurdler took time out of her favourite event for the championships at Santry Stadium, Dublin, to concentrate on a flat one lap of the track.

And the decision paid off massively as she pipped home favourite Sinead Denny on the line to claim her first-ever Irish senior gold over the distance with a personal-best time of 54.24.

That performance puts Gault at the top of the Irish rankings and comes less than a month after the 30-year-old qualified for the final of the 400m hurdles at the British Championships in Birmingham.

The University of Chichester lecturer’s surprise omission from the Northern Ireland squad for the Commonwealth Games, however, still hurts.

But she’s hoping her luck on the international stage will now change following her eye-catching performance in the Irish capital.

‘The win has certainly given the selectors over in Ireland plenty to ponder,’ said Gault.

‘Although I haven’t declared for them, I am still eligible to compete for Ireland and I’m hoping my performance against a high-calibre field will have impressed them.

‘Athletics Ireland recently sent a 4x400m team to the Europa League in Estonia and on Sunday I saw off two of that team to claim the win.

‘I’m now top of the Irish rankings for the 400m, so hopefully something may materialise. I might have to rush out and get an Irish passport just in case.’

Gault’s recent performances have provided a welcome boost to a season full of frustrations, as her dream of competing in Glasgow was taken from her.

‘I could easily have packed athletics in after my Games heartache,’ admitted Gault, who won the Sussex 400m title back in June.

‘But I decided to carry on – and I’m glad I did now.

‘A new PB has given me the belief that I’m still to peak over both the flat and hurdles and I definitely have the right to think about competing at a major championships.’