Irish athletics celebrated its best ever performance at a major championship over the weekend with three gold medals and one silver lifting us to seventh place overall on the Medals Table at the European U18 Championships in Hungary.
Gold medals for Sarah Healy in the 3000 and 1500 metre events were the highlight not only of the irish team but the entire event with blistering performances to leave two high quality fields training in her wake.
Rhasidat Adeleke brought home another gold in the 200 metres while Sonia O’Sullivan was on hand to present a silver medal to her daughter Sophie in the *00 metres final on Saturday night.
The wins are a celebration of the huge work that each of the athletes has put in and holds out the promise of what potential there is in the current young crop of runners.
Cathal Dennehy writing in the Independent says: “Right now, her options seem endless, but if there’s one principle that’s worked for Healy to date it’s Leonardo da Vinci’s line about simplicity being the ultimate sophistication. With a talent so great, there’s a temptation to reach for unhelpful comparisons with past prodigies, but that does a disservice to an athlete setting out on a journey that could end just about anywhere.”
Ian O’Riordan in the Irish Times also placed the performance in the wider context of multi-sport particiaption and Ireland’s multicultural background.
It is hoped that Healy will race at the Morton Games in Santry next Friday night, giving Irish athletics fans another opportunity to see her burgeoning talent.
She will not race at the Senior European Championships however as she has the Leaving Cert to prepare for next year and will be at Irish College while the games are on.
Athletics Ireland deserves credit for ensuring that the story of these winners and the performances of their 23 strong team were relayed back to home via a smart social media presence led by Feidhlim Kelly.
The importance of telling the story and making the news available in real time was picked up by all the mainstream media and indeed by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who was sending his congratulations last night.
The meeting was covered on live streaming with highlights on Eurosport enabling RTÉ to feature the exploits as part of its main news bulletins but having the base level of content available was important on what was an incredibly busy sporting weekend.
Pure composure and pure class. Sarah Healy on her 1500m, double gold and certainly not as easy as it looks pic.twitter.com/vGs6fpUqrz
— Athletics Ireland (@irishathletics) July 8, 2018
This is a rare group of talented athletes. It was Ireland’s best ever performance at a major Championships at any age level and promises much for the future so long as the various hurdles from youth to senior can be navigated but they have already achieved more on the European stage than most can ever dream of.
In that alone, they will have inspired many to go out for that late run when their legs are aching and there is always something else that holds an appeal.
The Irish Life sponsored National Juvenile Championships will take place in Tullamore next weekend with many more runners looking to see what they can do, against their own previous bests, and hoping to follow in the footsteps of those who have led the way these past three days.
Image Credit: Oisin Kenneiy, Inpho.ie