Primary pupils whose schools are competing in the Ireland’s Fittest School search are being encouraged by event patrons, Olympians David Gillick and Phil Healy to ‘double-down’ on their exercise and fitness routines as the event heads towards its 31 March finishing line. Winner will be announced in April.

No solo run for Phil Healy

Cork sprinter Phil Healy will not compete individually in the 400 metres in the upcoming European Indoor Championships in Istanbul, which start today, Thursday and runs until 5 March.

After a series of health issues, the Bandon AC athlete revealed that she will instead focus her energy on the 4x400m relay.

The 15-strong Irish team will be lead by Israel Olatunde and Mark English who are among Ireland’s strongest medal hopes.

The team will be without both Ciara Mageean and Sarah Healy who are injured, while the in-form Rhasidat Adeleke remains in the US, where she is competing in the NCAA championships.

On Thursday, Healy wrote: “It's disappointing considering I finished 4th at the last European Indoors and it's the first indoor major championships I have missed individually since 2016. However, that's how it rolls with the joys of the highs and lows in sport.

“It has been a very rough few months that I have only shared with a few people, to try and overcome some health issues and get my body responding again,” she explained on social media.“Knowing that an individual performance wasn’t going to be at my desired standards, I still toed the line at nationals and opened my season to do what I could, to try to post a time to help the 4x400m relay secure qualification for European Indoors.

“I’m delighted that we collectively succeeded in securing that qualification and I’m looking forward to competing with the girls next week in the relay and watching the whole Irish team perform in their respective events!”

Healy previously finished fourth in the 400m at the last European Indoor Championships in Torun in Poland in 2021.

At the team announcement last Thursday, insurance company were officially announced as the new official kit sponsor of Irish athletics in a multi-annual, six-figure deal.

Mark English and John Fitzsimons compete first today at 4pm.

Irish team:

Joan Healy 60m

Israel Olatunde 60m

Sarah Lavin 60mH

Sharlene Mawdsley 400m & 4x400m

Sophie Becker 400m & 4x400m

Phil Healy 4x400m

Cliodhna Manning 400m & 4x400m

Miriam Daly 4x400m

Niamh Murray 4x400m

Kate O’Connor Pentathlon

Mark English 800m

John Fitzsimons 800m

Andrew Coscoran 1500m

Luke McCann 1500m

Darragh McElhinney 3000m