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McAnuff 35th; O’Brien 37th at Short Track Worlds

Sean McAnuff (24) and Liam O’Brien (23) have concluded their seasons at the World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Montreal, Canada where they finish 35th and 37th respectively in the overall classification. This was the first time Ireland fielded two skaters in the same category at an ISU World Championships.

Racing began for the two Irish men with the opening day qualifying rounds. First up were the 1500 metres quarterfinals. O’Brien came fourth in Heat 4 in a time of 2:22.931. while McAnuff was fifth with a time of 2:24.441 in Heat 6.

Next up were the 500 metres preliminaries. McAnuff raced in Heat 8 where he came fourth in 42.475 and was followed by O’Brien in Heat 9 who also ended up fourth in a time of 43.549.

The final distance on the opening day were the 1000 metres preliminaries. Unfortunately, O’Brien picked up a penalty in Heat 5. McAnuff wound up fourth in Heat 8 (1:27.595).

The Irish skaters lined up for two ranking finals on Day Two. McAnuff appeared in Heat 2 of the 1500 metres and finished sixth in a closely fought race in 2:26.229. O’Brien was next on the track in Heat 3 and took fourth in 2:29.668. O’Brien finished 25th and McAnuff 34th overall in the distance.

For the 500 metres preliminaries ranking finals, McAnuff and O’Brien were both drawn in Heat 2. Although O’Brien received a penalty, McAnuff had his best finish of the championships by placing second in a time of 43.243. McAnuff ranked 35th and O’Brien 37th for the distance.

The last day of the championships saw just McAnuff in action in the 1000 metres preliminaries ranking finals. He came third in Heat 3 with a time of 1:32.192 and was classified 31st for the distance. O’Brien ranked 44th.

“I think this has been the most successful weekend of my skating career thus far,” McAnuff said. “I was able to accomplish each goal I set, as well as reconnect and enjoy the company of fellow skaters that I have met over the years. It was refreshing, yet inspiring to finish off this Olympic season back in Canada at Maurice Richard. I’m thankful for the opportunity to have raced this weekend, but I am certainly looking forward to the season of rest ahead!”

“The competition didn’t go as planned after receiving penalties in both the 500 and 1000 metres,” O’Brien said. “However, it was great to have crowds back at racing and have an atmosphere in the ice rink. I’m glad that this season has come to an end as it was full of ups and downs and time for some much needed rest.”

 

McAnuff and O’Brien On Track For Historic Worlds

This weekend Ireland’s Sean McAnuff (24) and Liam O’Brien (23) close out their season at the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Montreal, Canada which had originally been scheduled for last month. This marks the first time that the Ice Skating Association of Ireland fields two athletes in the same category at an ISU World Championships.

McAnuff and O’Brien will be among over 119 skaters from 27 countries participating in the annual event. They will first race on Friday (8 April) in the qualifying rounds for the 500, 1000 and 1500 metre distances with further rounds taking place over the following two days.

McAnuff will be racing for the first time since his season was interrupted in November last year with a bout of Covid-19 causing him to miss out on the final two Olympic qualifying World Cups. He previously competed at Worlds back in 2019.

“With the difficulties of Covid in the prior season, and the postponement of the World Championships this season, many of us have had to sacrifice other areas of our personal lives to try and avoid compromising our skating goals,” McAnuff said. “Now that the end of the season is here, I really want to bring a fun and light hearted atmosphere to this competition, while bringing joy to the sport we all started because of our love for it! One goal for me is encouraging this kind of environment. I think it is important to remember we can’t all take home a gold medal, but we can all take away an experience that fosters our passion for the sport rather than an experience that burns us out.”

By placing 29th at last year’s Worlds, O’Brien qualified two spots for Ireland this time round in the men’s event in Montreal. He continued his good form this season at the World Cups last autumn and agonisingly missed out on securing a quota spot at the Beijing Olympics in the 1500 metres by just one place.

“I am looking forward to getting out there and racing at the weekend for the first time since the World Cups back in November,” O’Brien said. “I hope to improve on last season’s World Championships results and my performance at this season’s World Cup series.”

The World Short Track Speed Skating Championships will be broadcast online in Ireland on the Eurosport Player (paid subscription required) and the ISU YouTube channel. McAnuff and O’Brien will start their campaigns inside the Maurice Richard Arena tomorrow afternoon (8 April) Irish time.

The results of the championships can be followed on the event results page and on social media via the #WorldShortTrack and #ShortTrackSkating hashtags.