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Wicklow’s Catherine O’Connor leads Ireland to gold and secures individual bronze at World Masters Athletics Championships in Finland

The Sli Cualann athlete devoured the cross county course in Tampere

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Wicklow's Catherine O'Connor draped in the Irish flag in Tampere, Finland, after winning the bronze medal as an individual and team gold with Ireland in the cross country at the World Master Athletics Championships in Finland.

Wicklow's Catherine O'Connor draped in the Irish flag in Tampere, Finland, after winning the bronze medal as an individual and team gold with Ireland in the cross country at the World Master Athletics Championships in Finland.

Catherine O'Connor, Michelle Kenny and Zoe Quinn who won the team gold at O40 in the cross country at the World Masters Athletics Championships in Finland.

Catherine O'Connor, Michelle Kenny and Zoe Quinn who won the team gold at O40 in the cross country at the World Masters Athletics Championships in Finland.

Wicklow's William Belton in action in Finland.

Wicklow's William Belton in action in Finland.

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Wicklow's Catherine O'Connor draped in the Irish flag in Tampere, Finland, after winning the bronze medal as an individual and team gold with Ireland in the cross country at the World Master Athletics Championships in Finland.

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Wicklow’s Catherine O’Connor won an individual bronze and helped the Ireland team to a gold medal in the World Masters Athletics Championships in Finland yesterday (Thursday).

The Sli Cualann star charged around the 8km course in Tampere in a time of 27:57, just 22 seconds behind the gold medal winner, Romania’s Nicoleta Ciortan, and 14 seconds slower than Spain’s María José De Toro Sáiz in second spot.

The course was four 2km laps of a combination of a football field and a forest, and it proved to be a fruitful one for the Parnall AC member as she claimed the bronze in the O45 category with her Ireland colleague Zoe Quinn one place back in a time of 28:07.

Having ran the race as an individual in the O45 category, Catherine and Zoe both dropped to the O40 for the team standings where they were joined by Michelle Kenny who won gold in that grade, and who, interestingly, finished in a slower time than Catherine.

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Together, the three times were fast enough to earn Ireland the gold medal, ahead of Finland in second and Germany in third.

Bill Porter, Chairman of Wicklow Athletics, said that to the best of his knowledge Catherine is the first ever Wicklow athlete to win an individual medal at a world masters championship and that it is a “massive achievement” and made even better given that it comes so quickly after her European bronze medal in Italy a few short weeks ago

Fellow Sli Cualann runner William Belton was the only other Co. Wicklow athlete in Tampere, and he came home in 21st position in the O70 race in a time of 26.19 with Robert Qualls of the US taking the gold in 21.59.

Bill Porter said that, again, to the best of his knowledge, William is the first Co. Wicklow athlete to compete for Ireland in a world championships at O70.


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