Mark English to start Ireland's Beijing challenge on Saturday

Mark English takes bronze at last year's European Championships
Mark English won a bronze medal at last year's European Outdoor Championships in Zurich
World Athletics Championships
Venue: Beijing National Stadium, China Dates: 22-30 August
Coverage: Live on BBC TV, Red Button, Radio 5 live, online, mobiles, tablets and app.

Letterkenny man Mark English will be the first Irish athlete in action when the World Championships begin in Beijing on Saturday morning.

The European medallist, outdoors and indoors, is scheduled to compete in the 800 metres first round at 04:50 BST.

Of the provisional entries, English is only 26th fastest this season.

But the 22-year-old appears to be rounding into form after struggling earlier this summer and will expect to make Sunday's semi-finals.

A back injury severely inhibited English during the early stages of his summer campaign and he finished out of the medals at the European Under-23 Championships in the early part of July.

However, he showed a return to form as he mixed it with several of the world's best when he took fourth at the London Anniversary Games with his time of 1:45.49 also a qualifying mark for next year's Olympics.

That time was .65 outside his personal best set in 2013.

Given that 16 of the 800m entries have gone under one minute and 45 seconds this year, English will have to perform heroics to reach Tuesday's final.

However, if English, as he insists, is now fully fit then he is capable of getting past Saturday's opening test and then giving himself a fighting chance of progressing from Sunday's afternoon's semi-finals.

Sonia O'Sullivan won the world 5000m title in 1995 and clinched Olympic silver five years later
Sonia O'Sullivan's hopes of being elected to the IAAF's Council were dashed

His rivals in Saturday morning's heat include emerging Bosnian talent Amel Tuka who clocked a sensational 1:42.51 in Monaco last month plus American 1:44.58 man Erik Sowinski.

Moroccan Nader Belhanbel and Colombia's Rafith Rodriguez also have faster lifetime bests that English with only the top three guaranteed to progress.

Irish 400m hurdles star Thomas Barr will also be in action on day one of the championships.

Waterford man Barr, 23, has improved his personal best to 48.65 seconds this year and will be targeting a final place in Beijing.

Barr will compete in the first round at 11:35 BST and progression would see him lining up in the semi-finals on Sunday morning (11:40).

Newcastle woman Kerry O'Flaherty will be part of a three-strong Irish challenge in the women's 3000m steeplechase heats on Monday morning (02:45) as she along with Sara Treacy and Michelle Finn, chases a spot in Wednesday's final.

Holywood man Ben Reynolds will have his first outdoor World Championship outing in the 110m hurdles first round on Wednesday morning (04:20).

Meanwhile, Ireland's former world champion and Olympic silver medallist Sonia O'Sullivan's hopes of being elected to the IAAF's Council were dashed on Wednesday.

O'Sullivan narrowly missed out being elected to the IAAF Council on the day Sebastian Coe was elected the new president of the International Athletics governing body.

Tullamore Harriers's John Cronin, a native of Donegal, was elected to the IAAF's Technical Committee.

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