Healy underlines supreme talent with golden run
After unleashing a searing final kilometre of 2:57, Sarah Healy created a little piece of athletics history last night by becoming the first Irish athlete to win gold at the European U-18 Championships, the 17-year-old Dubliner obliterating her rivals in the girls' 3,000m to win in a championship record of 9:18.05.
Running on a rain-soaked track at the stadium in Gyor, Hungary, Healy bided her time through the early stages as France's Alessia Zarbo passed 1,000m in 3:08 and 2000m in 6:20, at which point Healy seized command and injected a swift change of pace.
That drew her clear of her rivals in an instant and Healy, a gold medallist at the European Youth Olympics last year, came home in splendid isolation to add to her growing reputation, finishing six seconds in front of runner-up Inci Kalkan of Turkey.
"It feels amazing," said Healy, who had travelled to Hungary planning to contest only the 1,500m. "I wasn't sure about running this; I had thought about it a few weeks ago and we decided to leave it, but just before I came we thought: why not?
"The first few laps felt fast so I decided to wait, then it slowed down and as it went on I started feeling better," said the Blackrock AC athlete, who revealed her coach Eoghan Marnell had given her specific race tactics. "It was his idea to take it up with 1K to go and he always gives me good race plans."
Her gold caps a memorable season to date for Healy, who started the year with a national senior indoor 3,000m title and has since smashed the Irish U-20 800m and 1,500m records, clocking 2:02.76 and 4:09.25 respectively, the latter time the fastest in the world by an U-18 athlete this year.
It was the first of what could be two gold medals this weekend for Healy, who also coasted to victory in her 1,500m heat yesterday morning. She will contest that final at 6.10pm Irish time tomorrow.
There was disappointment, however, for Patience Jumbo-Gula, who lined up as favourite in the girls' 100m final but finished fifth in 11.87, a race won by Iceland's Gudbjorg Jona Bjarnadottir in 11.75.
"I didn't get out well at all and it wasn't a good run," said Jumbo-Gula. "I wasn't as relaxed as in the heat and semi but the start really put me off my race. But it's a lesson."
The chief medal hopes today will rest with Sophie O'Sullivan and Rhasidat Adeleke. O'Sullivan, whose mother Sonia was watching trackside, will contest the 800m final at 8.18pm Irish time after finishing second in the semi-final in 2:07.95. Adeleke will go in the 200m semi-finals at 10:44am, with the final taking place at 6:42pm.
All races will be broadcast live on Eurosport 2.