Sunday 13 October 2019

Healy's aim is a golden run

Sarah Healy is going for gold in the 1500m at the European Athletics U20 Championships in Boras
Sarah Healy is going for gold in the 1500m at the European Athletics U20 Championships in Boras

After a particularly busy week for Ireland's next generation of athletes, three more teams are competing abroad over the next week, with the U20s in Boras, Sweden from tomorrow, the schools team in Wales on Saturday and the team for the European Youth Olympics heading for the city of Baku in Azerbaijan towards the end of the week.

Among the favourites to win a medal in Boras is Sarah Healy of Blackrock AC, who won double gold last year in the 1500m and 3000m at U18 level.

She competes only in the 1500m this time, since both 3000m and 1500m finals take place on the same day.

Fastest athlete entered is Mariana Machado of Portugal who has clocked a time of 4:10.61 this year. Healy lies second in the rankings with 4:123.00, while a close third is Delia Sclabas of Switzerland with 4:12.37.

Top ranked for the 200m is Aaron Sexton of North Down, who says farewell to athletics - for the moment at least - at this meet before beginning a career as a professional rugby player.

Sexton's time of 20.69 secs from the Irish schools championships puts him top of the current rankings, with British athlete Joe Ferguson ranked second with a time of 20.79.

Also top ranked in Europe at the moment is middle distance athlete Darragh McElhinney of Bantry AC, who competes in the 5000m having run an Irish junior record time of 13:54.10 last May. Only a fortnight ago, he set an Irish U20 record of 8:01.48 for 3000m.

One of the first athletes in action tomorrow morning will be heptathlete Kate O'Connor of St Gerard's Dundalk, whose Irish record score of 5881 puts her third in the rankings.


She faces tough competition from the two athletes ranked ahead of her - Annik Kalin of Switzerland and Maria Vicente of Spain.

O'Connor is also entered for the javelin, which is her strongest event.

Other athletes who have chance of taking medals include Davicia Patterson, who is ranked at No 3 for the 400m with a time of 52.57 secs, and the relay teams, with the women's 4x400m ranked second in Europe.

Medals hopes for Baku include Aimee Hayde of Newport AC, who has qualified for both the 800m and 1500m, and sprinters Israel Olatunde of Dundealgan AC, and Rhasidat Adeleke of Tallaght AC. Olatunde warmed up for Baku with victory in the U18 100m at the National Juvenile Championships in Tullamore last weekend.

The Irish teams will hope to build on last weekend's successes at the European U23 Championships in Gavle, Sweden where Eilish Flanagan of Carmen Runners took silver in the 3000m steeplechase, while Nadia Power of Templeogue AC won bronze in a dramatic 800m after a disqualification for obstruction was overturned.

There were also personal best performances from Molly Scott (100m hurdles) and Niamh Fogarty (discus). In the 4x100m final, the quartet of Gina Akpe Moses, Molly Scott, Sharlene Mawdsley and Ciara Neville finished fourth in 44.32 secs.

A few days earlier at the World University Games in Naples, Italy, Carlow sprinter Marcus Lawler took bronze in the men's 200m with a personal best time of 20.55 secs.

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