THREE-time European medallist Mark English has joined Finn Valley Athletics Club.
English has signed for Finn Valley AC ahead of the 2020 outdoor season with the 800m runner aiming to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
English won a silver medal at the 2015 European Indoor Championships in Prague. In 2014 in Zurich, English won a bronze medal at the European Championships and at the European Indoor Championships in 2019 he was the bronze medallist.
English has been running under UCD AC’s banner for the last eight years. He was a student at the UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science, but has now decided on a homecoming of sorts following the completion of his studies.
“Finn Valley are a club that is very involved,” English, who will continue to be coached by US-based Steve Magness, said.
“I train with Paddy Brennan, who runs with Finn Valley, and I’ve had an association with others from the club, like Patsy McGonagle, Neil Martin and Kieran Carlin over the years
“I’m excited to run with Finn Valley AC and to wear the vest.
“It’s nice to be back in Donegal after eight years away and to be back in Donegal athletics in some small way again. I want to help inspire the young athletes coming up.”
His move to Finn Valley sees him rekindle an association with Patsy McGonagle, the Finn Valley AC Chairperson who was the Irish Athletics Team Manager from 1992-2017.
English said: “Patsy was the Irish manager when I started off. He was a really inspiring figure. At European Team Championships, he would get the team all fired up.
“The best way I can describe it is that it was like being in a GAA dressing room. It was nice to experience that passion, which is a rarity in athletics.”
McGonagle has described English as being ‘the most talented athlete that we have ever produced in the north west of Ireland’ and his record marks him out as one of Ireland’s greatest athletes.
McGonagle said: “I’m on record previously as saying that I was privileged to be at major Championships with Mark English.
“His record speaks for itself and I’m delighted that Mark English is to be associated with Finn Valley AC.
“It is a great boost for Donegal athletics. Mark has inspired a lot of young athletes and it’s important that people understand what is possible from Donegal. I have watched Mark develop from being a successful athlete at Woodlands National School.”
English recently won the 14th Irish senior title of his career. He has won seven Irish senior outdoor 800m crowns and his win in Abbotstown last month secured his seventh Irish senior indoor 800m gold.
English really rose to prominence as an athlete of real potential in 2010 when he won gold at the European Youth Olympic Trials over 1000m in Moscow.
He competed at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and holds the Irish Indoor 800m record (1:46.82), set in 2014.
He said: “I’m aware of my record in the sport and I see what others have achieved. I’m very proud of the three European medals. They aren’t easy medals to win. I want to beef that up a bit now.”
English, who turns 27 next week, has a remarkable haul of medals. He has made his name as an 800m star, but at underage level he won titles at 400m, 600m, 800m, not to mention an under-12 high jump crown and two titles over hurdles (60m Irish Under-14 and 80m Community Games).
English has paid tribute to the assistance of UCD over the previous eight years. A member of the Ad Astra Academy – UCD’s scholarship programme – English highlighted the support of UCD Director of Sport Brian Mullins, Academy Professor Colin Boreham and Administrative Manager Ann O’Hanlon.
He said: “They were a big help to me during my years at UCD. The whole experience at UCD was great, from helping my study, my strength and conditioning work.”
The move to the blue and white singlet sees English follow in the footsteps of his aunt, Bernie, who was Finn Valley AC’s first ever Irish champion, winning Irish Junior 100m and 200m titles in 1975.
He said: “I’m very close to Bernie. She has been at all of my races and was in Rio for the Olympics in 2016. She was there with me during the tough times so it’s fitting that I’m coming into the club she ran with.”
|Mark English – the record|
– Compiled by Pierce O’Callaghan
|Silver||2015 European Indoor Championships (Prague)|
|Bronze||2014 European Championships (Zurich)|
|Bronze||2019 European Indoor Championships (Glasgow)|
|European Youth Olympic Trials|
|Gold||2010 European Youth Olympic Trials (Moscow)|
|Irish Outdoor Championship gold medals|
|2011, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 |
Irish Senior Championships (all 800m)
|2010, 2011 Irish Junior Championships (800m)|
|2011 Irish Under-19 Championships (400m)|
|2009 Irish Under-17 Championships (800m)|
|2006 Irish Under-14 Championships (Combined Events)|
|2005 Irish Under-13 Championships (800m)|
|2004 Irish Under-12 Championships (800m and high jump)|
|2003 Irish Under-11 Championships (600m)|
|2003 and 2005 Cross-County Championships (U11 and U13)|
|Irish Indoor Championship gold medals|
|2011, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2020 |
Irish Senior Indoor Championships (all 800m)
|2009 Irish Indoor Under-17 Championships (800m)|
|2006 Irish Indoor Under-14 Championships (800m and 60m hurdles)|
|Irish Schools Championship gold medal|
|2010 Irish Schools Championships (800m)|
|Community Games gold medal|
|2005 Community Games (Under-14 80m hurdles)|