O'Connor on cusp of history as she goes for gold in Sweden
Dundalk's Kate O'Connor can create a little piece of Irish athletics history if she secures a medal at the European U-20 Championships in Boras, Sweden today. No heptathlete has ever won a major international medal for Ireland but the 18-year-old appears poised to change that.
She had a spectacular start in her first four events yesterday, clocking 14.61 in the 100m hurdles, clearing a PB of 1.81m in the high jump, throwing 13.41m in the shot put and clocking 24.82 in the 200m.
That put her third overnight on 3,543 points, just 22 shy of event leader Maria Vicente of Spain. But with the long jump, javelin (her strongest event) and 800m to come, O'Connor is set to be in the shake-up for gold today and can obliterate her Irish record of 5,881 points.
Coasted Ireland's other medal contenders coasted through their opening rounds yesterday. Sarah Healy seized command of her 1,500m heat after 600 metres and kept herself out of danger, cruising across the line in second in 4:22.34.
Davicia Patterson was a class apart in her 400m heat, winning in 53.88. World U-20 silver medallist Sommer Lecky got her campaign under way in the women's high jump, clearing 1.81m to reach the final.
Patience Jumbo-Gula produced a season's best of 11.75 to advance to the semi-final of the women's 100m, where the Dundalk athlete finished sixth in 11.69. Sophie O'Sullivan and Jo Keane moved on to the 800m semi-finals after finishing third in their respective heats.
Conor Morey bowed out after finishing seventh in his 100m semi-final in 10.71, while Shay McEvoy advanced to the 3,000m final. Seán Mockler threw 67.34m in hammer qualification but didn't advance.