O'Lionaird avoiding the distraction of the 'Asafa Powell in Athlone' issue

Irish athlete chats to Off The Ball

O'Lionaird avoiding the distraction of the 'Asafa Powell in Athlone' issue

Ciaran O’Lionaird ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Tomorrow Athlone Institute of Technology plays host to its second annual Grand Prix.

It will feature some big names from the athletics world including former 100 metre record holder Asafa Powell.

Ireland's Ciaran O'Lionaird will also be taking part as his 2015 builds up.

"I'm very excited to race. I haven't raced at home in the indoors since 2006," he told Off The Ball tonight.

He will be looking to put down an important marker - to become the first Irish person to run a sub-4 minute mile indoor on Irish soil.

"It's surprising [that it's not been done before] but I suppose a lot of those races were in the US," said O'Lionaird.

"All my PBs have been run on US indoors. Hopefully I can make a change to that now tomorrow night and go out and have a good performance."

The inclusion of Powell, who tested positive for a banned substance in 2013 and had a ban lifted by the Court of Arbitration for Sport last summer, has been criticised in some quarters. 

O'Lionaird says he is not allowing himself to be distracted by the Powell issue, even though he believes drug testing in Jamaica is not of the required standard.

"I don't want to be thinking about whether or not Asafa Powell should or shouldn't be in the Athlone Grand Prix. Right now it's a matter of limiting distractions," he said.