Adeleke breaks the Irish 100m record on an exciting day 2 of the National Track and Field

July 01, 2024

By Perri Williams

There was record attendance at the championships as spectators flocked to Morton Stadium, enthused and captivated by the recent excellent performances at the European Championships. The second day, was in marked contrast to yesterday as the wet conditions gave way to a relatively warm and dry day, which was critical for athletes trying to achieve times.

Rhasidat Adeleke smashed the 100m Irish record in what was billed as one of the most exciting Irish National Track and Field championships in its 152 years history. The Tallaght AC athlete blitzed down the 100m straight to claim the title of Ireland’s fastest woman. Behind her Sarah Lavin, smiled as she crossed the line, perhaps in acknowledgment that something special had been done and she too was part of it. A photo finish was needed to decide the bronze medal, with Molly O’Rielly edging out Gina Akpe-Moses (2017 European u20 gold). The ladies final included all four athletes who were on the 2018 European u20 silver medal winning 4x100m relay (Adeleke, Akpe-Moses, Molly Scott and Ciara Neville).

Bori Akinola (UCD) challenged Israel Olatundu (Tallaght AC) to an inch of the finish line loosing out by just two hundredths of a second. It was a great day for Tallaght AC as Sean Aigboboh came with a late surge to take the bronze. Never before has the Dublin club accumulated so many medals within such a short period of time.

Sarah Healy (UCD) stepped down a distance to 800m where she faced last year’s champion Louise Shanahan (Leevale AC). The race was led out by Jenna Brommel (Emerald AC) who was passed by both Healy and Shanahan with 200m to go. Shanahan led the first charge as she shot into the lead ready to attack the final 100m with her killer end of race kick. However, it was Sarah Healy who turned up the pace and confidently sprinted the final 100m to emerge the clear winner in a time of 2.03, with Shannon marginally ahead of Bromell. Mark English as expected won the men’s 800m, his ninth title. Content to sit in the middle of the pack for the first half of the race, English moved through the field and took the lead up the back straight. Unchallenged, he crossed the line in 1.49. Behind him another race was unfolding, Rob Hewison (Kildare AC), Cillian Kirwan (GCH) and Dara Donoghue (Lucan) were battling for the minor medals. Hewison fell, across the line to hold on for third with Kirwan snatching the silver.

Thomas Barr’s popularity as an athlete was evidenced by the distinct chant of his name, before, during and after his 400m hurdles final. The Ferrybank AC athlete took his eleventh national 400m hurdles title, then spent over an hour and a half signing autographs for the multitude of fan’s that had gathered trackside to see him. Not one child went away without a photo, autograph or a smile from the much loved Waterford native.

Sophie O’Sullivan (Ballymore/Cobh) won her first national senior title as she upgraded her 2023 silver to gold. The pain of the final 80m etched on her face as she moved clear of a fast finishing Carla Sweeny (Rathfarnham) and Maddison Mooney (Tullamore Harriers). Georgie Hartigan (DSD) had to settle for fourth. O Sullivan was then presented with her medal by her famous mother Sonia, who has won the 1500m herself five times.

The men’s 1500m was billed as one of the most exciting races, as Luke McCann was facing Cathal Doyle both of whom are inside the qualifying quota for the Olympic Games. McCann made the initial move on the back straight, but it was Doyle who outkicked everyone as the Clonliffe AC man delighted the home crowd. Despite a brave challenge from Darragh McIlhenny (Bandon AC) it was McCann who held on for third. Both McCann and Doyle will have to await the outcome for the final ranking list which will be available this week.

Each race seemed to bring their own flavour of excitement, so much so that the crowd were not moving – for fear of missing a piece of the action. The 400m races were always going to be interesting, especially as relay places are at stake. In the absence of Adeleke and Mawdsley, it was Sophie Becker (Raheny) as expected took the gold. Behind her drama was unfolding as Rachael McCann (North Down) swept past Kelly McGrory and Lauren Cadden to take silver, with Cadden falling and sustaining a shoulder injury. As decisive was Sophie Beckers victory in the ladies’ event, there was nothing of the kind in the men’s. Chris O’Donnell (Sligo), Jack Raferty (Donore) and Callum Baird (Ballymena and Antrim) were neck and neck coming into the final 30m. At this point the powerful Raferty edged ahead to beat O’Donnell by just one tenth of a second and record a season’s best performance. Cillian Green who ran the mixed relay qualifier in the Bahamas was fourth.

Michelle Finn (Leevale) retained her steeplechase title, with the men’s title going to Billy Coogan (KCH), his first ever. Matthew Callinan Keenan retained his pole vault title as did Ellie McCartney.

Nicola Tuthill, who a month ago became just the second Irish female to throw over seventy meters in the hammer, took her fourth national title. She is marginally inside the qualifying quota for Paris and like McCann and Doyle will await her fate this week. Sean Mockler (Moycarkey Coolcroo AC) won the men’s hammer.

The Discus titles went to Niamh Fogarty (Raheny) with Michael Healy (Leevale) winning the mens. Healy also went on to win the weight for distance with Olga Nedvede winning the ladies.

The final event to finish on the day was the ladies long jump. Elizabeth Ndudi (DSD) retained her title with a jump of 6.16, just one centimeter ahead of Lauren Callaghan (Finn Valley). There was a welcome return to competition for Reece Ademola as the popular Leevale giant won the men’s long jump. It was a clean sweep for Cork with Shane Howard (Bandon) in second and Sam Healy (Leevale) in third.

So the longest running national championships in the world has been put to bed for its 152nd year and the athletes now turn their focus to national leagues and other domestic competitions. Some like Adeleke will take part in Diamond Leagues and other races in Europe.

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