Friday 22 February 2019

O'Connor top of Euro table

Kate O’Connor is making her mark, smashing Irish and European records. Photo: Sportsfile
Kate O’Connor is making her mark, smashing Irish and European records. Photo: Sportsfile

Kate O'Connor of St Gerard's Dundalk not only smashed Irish senior Under-23 and Under-20 records at the Irish Life Health National Indoor Combined Events in Athlone IT, she put herself top of the all-time European U20 rankings.

Standards in the combined events are streaking ahead in this age group, with the top 16 scores all coming in the past year. Leading them - until last Saturday - was Carmen Ramos of Spain, who scored 4075 at a competition in Valencia last month.

That's now overtaken by 17-year-old O'Connor, who recorded a personal best 1.79 in the high jump and was also the highest scorer in the hurdles, shot put, long jump and 800m accumulating a total of 4108 points in Athlone.

That score meant she broke Elizabeth Morland's 2016 record of 4043 points, which, for some reason, isn't included in the European listings.

Whatever about the European rankings, the pair are rewriting the Irish record books. Morland, who celebrates her 20th birthday on February 3, broke her own national heptathlon record when she finished fifth at the European U20 Championships with a score of 5801 at Grosseto, Italy last summer.

Only 42 points behind her, with 5759 points for eighth place, was O'Connor. Even better, Morland and O'Connor are not outliers. Three athletes went over 1.70m in the high jump in Athlone. Not far behind O'Connor was Sarah Connolly of North Down, with 1.76m, and Anna McCauley, from City of Lisburn, with 1.73m, while not far behind those three, with 1.70m, was Amy McTeggart of Boyne AC. All of these women are 21 or younger.

Indeed, the competition between Connolly and McTeggart for the senior title was one of the closest of the day. Connolly took an early lead in her specialist 60m hurdles, with a time of 8.90 secs, by some way the fastest of the day.

With a personal best 1.76m in the high jump, she increased her lead, but then McTeggart picked up good scores in the shot and long jump. In the 800m, Connolly did enough to hold off her rival and with a final total of 3661 points, she won the title by the tiny margin of 25 points.

As for McCauley, another 17-year-old, she was a clear winner of the girls' youths title with a score of 3841 points.

The boys weren't doing too badly either and in the youths category, Brian Lynch of Old Abbey AC improved the record to 3499 points.

In the senior category, Shane Aston of Trim AC retained the men's senior title, beating the 2016 champion Rolus Olusa of Clonliffe Harriers. Aston finished with a score of 3503 compared to 3354 for Olusa.

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