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Perfect 10 for Thomas Barr as Rhasidat Adeleke edges 100m thriller

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Thomas Barr of Ferrybank AC, Waterford, on his way to winning the men's 400m hurdles. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Thomas Barr of Ferrybank AC, Waterford, on his way to winning the men's 400m hurdles. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Louise Shanahan of Leevale AC, Cork, celebrates winning the women's 800m during day two of the Irish Life Health National Senior Track and Field Championships 2022 at Morton Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Louise Shanahan of Leevale AC, Cork, celebrates winning the women's 800m during day two of the Irish Life Health National Senior Track and Field Championships 2022 at Morton Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

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Thomas Barr of Ferrybank AC, Waterford, on his way to winning the men's 400m hurdles. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

For Thomas Barr the arrival of his 10th national title at 400m hurdles brought a huge wave of joy and relief, the chief reason being that for the first time in over a month, the Ferrybank star was able to sprint and hurdle without pain in his Achilles tendon.

On a damp, windy day at Morton Stadium yesterday, for the 150th edition of the Irish Athletics Championships, the 29-year-old again blitzed his opponents with a composed, classy performance, his 50.37 clocking bringing him home well clear of Emerald’s Jack Mitchell (51.64).

“All things considered, I’m very happy, even if it’s just a confidence boost to get back into training,” said Barr, who woke up with his Achilles “in agony” after a race in Italy in May which cost him a month of training.

“This weekend was a big test,” he said. “Waking up, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to run and it was frustrating because I put in a really, really good winter.

“But it’s a long season, we’ve two majors coming, so maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. I know I can turn it around in a few weeks. I’m a championship performer.”

Teenage sprint star Rhasidat Adeleke shook off the effects of jetlag to claim a thrilling women’s 100m with Molly Scott, the 19-year-old Tallaght athlete clocking 11.68 to Scott’s 11.69 into a stiff 2.6m/s headwind.

“Midway through the race I was like, ‘oh my God, I’m out of this,’” said Adeleke, who flew in from the US on Wednesday. “If I didn’t win I wouldn’t have minded too much as I haven’t really been working on the 100, but I’ve been working on my start.”

It’s been an astonishing year for Adeleke, who set Irish records at 60m, 200m, 300m and 400m, and while she remains undecided on competing at the Europeans in Munich in August, she will target next month’s World Championships in Oregon over 200m or 400m.

“I’ve been doing a lot of endurance, strength work and I’ll have to see how my body feels after Worlds,” she said.

Asked what the difference has been since relocating to the University of Texas, where she’s trained by renowned coach Edrick Floreal, she said: “Competing at Texas has built my mental game. I came from Ireland and got so used to winning here, so it was a shock to the system, but I’m making my way up and hopefully I can continue to make progress.”

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Israel Olatunde of UCD clocked an impressive 10.51 to retain his men’s 100m title into a 1.7m/s headwind, with Joseph Ojewumi second in 10.72.

“It felt good, I’m really happy with that,” said Olatunde. “I’ve been really patient this year with training and races, not forcing things, and that’s something I’m learning: to put in the work and let things happen.”

The women’s 400m produced a superb clash between Sophie Becker and Phil Healy, with Becker coming from behind to edge victory in 52.34.

“I thought I was going to fall in the last 50, f**king hell, I had nothing left,” said Becker. “I had to put up a serious fight, Phil was not letting that go. All that was going through my head was, ‘hold on.’”

There was a thrilling three-way battle in the men’s 5000m, won in fine style by UCD’s Darragh McElhinney, with a blazing last lap of 55 seconds to hit the line in 13:53.84 ahead of Hiko Tonosa and Efrem Gidey.

“I probably learned my lesson about going too early,” said McElhinney, who got out-kicked by Tonosa at the National Cross Country Championships last year.

“I flirted with the idea of going with a mile to go, but I saw how windy it was and didn’t fancy being out on my own for any longer than I had to be.”

Mark English looked imperious when kicking away from chief rival John Fitzsimons to win his eighth outdoor national title over 800m, in 1:48.46.

“My plan was to sit on the leader, it just happened to be John,” said English. “I felt very, very good and it’s full steam ahead now to the Worlds.”

Chris O’Donnell claimed his fourth national title in the men’s 400m, the North Sligo athlete clocking 46.82.

“I really wanted to win after the disappointment last year,” he said. “I’m going to just do some training before the World Championships and Europeans and it’s all guns blazing now.”

There was an intriguing battle in a slow-run men’s 1500m, where Clonliffe’s Cathal Doyle used his vast gears to take his first national title in 3:59.36. “I was licking my lips with that slow pace, knowing it’d be a big burn-up,” said Doyle.

Louise Shanahan of Leevale turned in another classy display to win the women’s 800m, with a vicious finishing kick, in 2:10.90, while clubmate Michelle Finn produced a courageous performance to win the women’s 3000m steeplechase in 9:57.72.

The field events were highlighted by a 6.58m long jump by Ruby Millet of St Abban’s, while in the men’s 10,000m race walk Sweden’s Perseus Karlstrom, competing for Togher AC, clocked an impressive 37:57.02.


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