The Next Generation - Michael Kent

July 06, 2024

In this Next Generation feature, we travel to Wexford to shine the spotlight on 16 year old Michael Kent.

Hailing from Gusserane, near New Ross, in County Wexford, Michael represents DMP Athletic Club in Wexford town and comes from a family with a rich background in the throwing events. With that, Michael was exposed to athletics from a young age. Despite his early experience in throwing circles, he found his true passion in jumping events.

Besides athletics, Michael is also an avid GAA player, representing Good Counsel College in New Ross and Gusserane O’ Rahilly’s GAA club. His involvement in multiple sports showcases his versatile athletic abilities, versatility which is evident across his career thus far.

Michael's athletic career has seen several transitions. Initially focused on long jumping, he later diversified into high jump and triple jump before concentrating on long jump and pole vault, alongside combined events. Despite the absence of an indoor athletics facility in Wexford, Michael has benefited from the facilities and coaching available at St. Laurence O’ Tooles, St. Abban’s, and Ratoath.

DMP Athletic Club has a strong tradition in long jumping, with coach Ronnie Bent training jumpers from across the county, including Michael. His progress in various jumping and multi-events has been guided by Liam Kelly from St. Abban’s. More recently, NI coach Jim Alexander and Mick Hyland have been instrumental in Michael's pole vault training.

The supportive Pole Vault community, including officials and coaches like Eamon Flanagan, Noelle Green, Seamus Flynn, and Dereck Neff, has played a crucial role in Michael's development. Their guidance and the togetherness among older vaulters have significantly contributed to his success.

Michael's personal bests are a testament to his hard work and super talent:

  • Long Jump: 7.11m
  • Pole Vault: 4.55m
  • Heptathlon: 4601 points
  • High Jump: 1.93m
  • Triple Jump: 13.51m

His standout moments in 2023 include setting Championship Best Performances in the All-Ireland Pole Vault (U17) and Heptathlon (U18) during the indoor season. The outdoor season saw him winning the Irish U20’s Long Jump, the Irish School’s Championships (High and Long Jump), and the Tailteann Games (Long Jump and Pole Vault). He was also part of the 4 x 100m Leinster Relay team at the Tailteann Games, where he received the Fr. Lonergan Trophy for Best Male Athlete.

Michael qualified for the European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) in Maribor, Slovenia, in July 2023. Competing in the Long Jump, he achieved a personal best performance of 7.02m (wind assisted), finishing 8th in the final on his 16th birthday. Reflecting on the experience, Michael said, “This was a great opportunity for me to compete at European level. We got fantastic support from Athletics Ireland and the Olympic Federation of Ireland to achieve our goals.”

A silver medal in the competitive English Championships, with a new personal best of 4.51m in Pole Vault, rounded off his 2023 season. However, a late-season injury kept him out of the School’s International Combined events, necessitating a period of rehabilitation.

Looking ahead, Michael has been selected to compete in the U/18 European Championships in Slovakia in 2024. He has been part of the Athletics Ireland Performance Pathway for the past two years, participating in a warm weather camp in Portugal and competing in the Catalan Championships in Spain.

His highlights for 2024 so far include victories in the All-Ireland School’s Championships in June in both Pole Vault and Long Jump. He broke the 31-year-old Pole Vault Championship Best Performance held by Neil Young (RBAI), clearing 4.55m. At the recent UCD Track and Field Meet, Michael jumped the qualification mark for the U18 Europeans in Long Jump with a leap of 7.11 metres.

Michael's short-term goal is to perform well at the upcoming European U18 Championships in Long Jump. Long-term, he aspires to compete internationally with distinction in the jumps. As he continues his journey, there is no doubt that Michael Kent will encounter more challenges and triumphs, each shaping him into a formidable athlete on the international stage. Run Republic are keen to see how far the talented Wexford native can go!

Featured Image: by Perri Williams

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