In what was the last race on the current track at Morton Stadium, a quintet of Irish milers ensured it proved an unforgettable one.
Olympian Andrew Coscoran had to summon all his strength – and a superb finish-line dive – to edge victory ahead of national champion Cathal Doyle at the Morton Games on Saturday night, the 26-year-old becoming the first Irish winner of the Morton Mile since James Nolan in 2004.
Coscoran engaged in a thrilling home-straight duel with Doyle and he trailed the Clonliffe athlete just metres from the line, but a well-timed lunge carried him to victory in 3:57.09 by just two hundredths of a second.
National 5000m champion Darragh McElhinney finished third in 3:58.15, with Swinford’s Shane Bracken fourth in 3:58.28 and Australia’s Callum Davies fifth in 3:58.36. Nick Griggs, the 17-year-old rising star of Irish middle-distance running, clocked a noteworthy 3:58.51 in sixth.
Coscoran bypassed last weekend’s national championships due to sickness but said he’s “back in full health and ready to go” for the World Championships in Oregon later this month.
“I’m delighted to win,” he said. “I’m training at a higher level than I’ve ever trained at, the preparation has been good and I’m hoping to be competitive over there.” Elsewhere Luke McCann clocked a big personal best of 3:35.65 in Heusden, Belgium.
Back in Santry, where work is due to begin on a new track next week, teenage sprint star Israel Olatunde showed the current surface can still produce fast times. He finished second in the men’s 100m in 10.26 (0.4m/s), breaking his own Irish U-23 record in a race won by Britain’s Andrew Robertson in 10.22.
Sarah Lavin very nearly put together the perfect race in the women’s 100m hurdles, the Emerald AC star leading a strong field to hurdle eight, but a mistake there cost her dearly and she finished runner-up in 13.10 to USA’s Jade Barber (12.97).
There was a stadium record in the men’s shot put from crowd favourite Nick Ponzio, the effervescent Italian producing an impressive 20.98m in damp conditions. Eric Favors of Raheny was next best with 19.57m.
Sophie Becker continued her fine form by taking victory over 400m in 52.69, while her training partner Jack Raftery did likewise in the men’s race, winning in 47.04 ahead of fellow Irishman Marcus Lawler (47.48).
Britain’s Lizzie Bird outkicked home favourite Sarah Healy in the women’s mile, clocking 4:30.67 to Healy’s 4:31.50. National 800m champion Louise Shanahan came up a close second in the women’s 800m, overtaken close to the line by Britain’s Isabelle Boffey, who clocked 2:03.22 to Shanahan’s 2:03.57.
The men’s 5000m saw the crowd brought to their feet by a spirited effort from Clonliffe’s Efrem Gidey but the 21-year-old ran out of gas and came home fifth, still clocking a PB of 13:44.59. The race was won by Australia’s Jackson Sharp in 13:33.77.