Fourth placing in the Big Apple

NEWRY runner Craig Huffer is looking forward to making a big impact on international athletics in 2013 after finishing fourth in the prestigious Fifth Avenue Mile in New York.

The 22-year-old recorded a time of 3:53.5 minutes, finishing hot on the heels of the world’s fastest middle distance runners, including 2011 world championship 1500 metre medalist Matthew Centrowitz, who won in 3:52.2min.

Multiple Olympic and world championship medalist Bernard Lagat (3:52.9min) and 2012 Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano (3:53.1min) came second and third respectively. Fellow Australian, Olympian Ryan Gregson (3:53.7) finished fifth.

The result marks a comeback for Huffer, who withdrew from the 2012 Australian Olympic trials after an injury-plagued 2011 which included two surgeries. He finally returned to full training in June and has been rapidly improving ever since with a win at the Molndal Mile in Sweden on August 4 followed up with an 800m personal best at the Copenhagen Athletic Games on August 21.

Huffer, who was a controversial non-selection for the 2010 Commonwealth Games after posting an A-qualifying mark, is now training under legendary US distance coach Ron Warhurst. Warhurst, along with training partner and 2008 Olympic 1500m silver medalist and 2012 Olympic finalist Nick Willis from New Zealand, have been guiding Huffer’s recent development.