Racewalking Relay at Santry Recap: Ireland's Last Bid for Paris 2024

June 23, 2024

By Perri Williams

Racewalking has been included in the Olympic Games since the 1908 London Olympics. Since then various distances have been approved for each iteration of the games. For the main part the 20km and 50km have more recently been the preferred distances. However, at this year’s Paris Olympics a mixed racewalking relay will make its debut replacing the 50km event. At the World racewalking Cup in Antalya, Turkey in April, twenty-two of these teams secured a qualifying spot. With two other places subsequently allocated, this left one remaining place available.

At Morton Stadium, Santry yesterday, this final spot was up for grabs as teams from Ireland, Czechia, Kenya, Hong Kong, Greece and Kazakhstan battled for victory. Racing for Ireland were Brendan Boyce and Kate Veale. Each athlete must race two legs of the relay each, with the sum of the four legs, covering the marathon distance. While Boyce and Veale put in a gallant effort, they were no match for the Czechia team who finished the competition with a time of 3 hours, 2 minutes and 9 seconds, a full two minutes ahead of Kenya in second place.

Delight versus disappointment was prevalent on the faces of the athletes as each of the eight teams finished this grueling competition. For some like team Czechia, it was their Olympic dream secured. For others including Ireland, Kenya and Greece, it was the final opportunity that no longer existed - their Olympic dream had disintegrated into a vapor of fallen hope.

Ireland were very unfortunate in Turkey; the team of Brendan Boyce (Finn Valley) and Kate Veale (West Waterford) did not get to complete the entire marathon distance. Boyce suffered a hamstring injury that caused him to retire after just 7km of the 42km distance. This left Kate Veale unable to race. Thanks to the efforts of Pierce O’Callaghan, Saturday’s competition was made possible. While Boyce and Veale may be disappointed with the outcome of the competition, both athletes can reflect on the journey the sport has taken them on, a journey that has had more positives than negatives. Boyce is a multi-Olympian and Veale won the World Youth Championships in 2011. Now both athletes will continue with their racing season and contemplate what lies ahead for 2025.

Featured Image: Perri Williams 

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