Sunday 21 July 2019

Junior stars in impressive form ahead of medal tilt in Sweden

Ireland's Sarah Healy. Photo: Sportsfile
Ireland's Sarah Healy. Photo: Sportsfile

Cathal Dennehy

Teenage stars Sarah Healy and Kate O'Connor turned in impressive performances at the National Junior and U-23 Championships in Tullamore on Saturday.

Healy sharpened her speed over 800m ahead of next week's European U-20 Championships in Boras, Sweden. After a pedestrian first lap, she kicked for home with 300 metres to run but was headed in the home straight by Jo Keane of Ennis, only for Healy to find an extra gear and take gold in 2:11.40.

"I don't have many races like that so it was good preparation," said the 18-year-old, who is targeting the 1500m next week. She will be back in action in Budapest tomorrow, where she will compete in a 2000m race that features 1500m world record holder Genzebe Dibaba.

Multi-event star O'Connor bagged two gold medals in Tullamore, winning the U-20 javelin with a record of 48.98m and the long jump with 5.98m. She also clocked a swift 24.88 in the 200m heats.

Another with strong claims next week is Darragh McElhinney, who dropped down to 800m and finished third in a thrilling U-20 race. Louis O'Loughlin edged victory ahead of Mark Milner and McElhinney. "I was completely out of my comfort zone but I put it up to the two boys," said McElhinney. "It shows I can close fast."

In the U-23 category, Michaela Walsh of Swinford was again dominant, taking gold in the hammer, javelin, shot put and weight for distance. Ellen McCartney added a centimetre to her Irish U-23 record in the pole vault, clearing 4.01m to take gold.

Elsewhere, Fionnuala McCormack was in action at the European 10,000m Cup in Highgate, London, the 34-year-old finishing fifth in 32:05.27. Ryan Forsyth was the leading Irish finisher in the men's event, coming home eighth in the B race in 29:01.27.

Irish Independent

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