Pena vaults to Irish record win

Tori Pena made a winning debut at the Woodie's DIY National Senior Track & Field Championships today, breaking the women's pole vault record by clearing 4.15 metres.

The Californian-born Pena, who qualifies for Ireland through her Derry grandmother, comfortably set a new national record at the Morton Stadium meet.

The wet and windy conditions certainly curtailed expectations in the field competitions, and Pena was satisfied with how things went for her.

"I'm happy with my 4.15m, considering the conditions today," said the 22-year-old.

"It's great to come here to Santry and achieve a record. Hopefully now I can pull on the Irish singlet in Barcelona in the European Championships."

Pena, who set a new personal best of 4.35m last month in California, recently declared for Ireland and competed today for the Finn Valley club.

A stomach bug forced Olive Loughnane, the World Championship silver medallist from last year, to withdraw from the event in Santry.

In her absence, the 16-year-old Kate Veale from Wexford took gold in the women's 5,000 metres walk, hitting the line in a new national junior record and personal best (22 minutes, 52.89 seconds). Loughnane is expected to be fully fit for the Europeans in two weeks' time.

Another athlete bound for the Spanish city, Paul Hession, was in impressive form as he clocked 20.77 seconds when winning the 200m title. It was the Athenry flyer's second fastest ever time in Ireland, and he beat Steve Colvert (21.41) and Darragh Graham (21.58) into second and third respectively.

The women's 200m final was won by talented youngster Niamh Whelan who just pipped her Ferrybank team-mate Kelly Proper. The pair finished with the same time - 23.68 seconds - but Whelan got the verdict in a dramatic finish. 400m specialist Joanne Cuddihy claimed third spot (24.21).

Proper managed to retain her long jump title earlier in the day, with a best leap of 6.35m, ahead of Mary McLoone (6.16m) and Sally Rose Maughan (5.93m).

Bryony Treston took the honours in the women's 3,000m steeplechase, edging out Michelle Finn in a nail-biting finish. Treston came home in 11 minutes, 17.13 seconds, with Finn just four-hundredths behind.

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