Thomas Barr breaks 18-year-old Irish 400m hurdles record
WITH just his second run of the season young Waterford hurdler Thomas Barr broke the long-standing Irish 400m hurdles record today, with a run of 49:61 in Oordegem, Belgium.
The talented 21-year-old from Dunmore East made the European U23 final and came within a few hundredths of Tom McGuirk's 18-year-old record (49:73) last year with a 49:78 PB.
Coming off his final exams in University of Limerick and a foot injury, he was not expected to break it so early this year and his record also met the qualifying standard (50.15) for this summer's European (senior) Championships.
At home Trim teenager Harry Purcell proved why he's the most exciting young prospect to burst onto the national athletics scene recently at today's Aviva Irish Schools Championships.
Purcell has only been running track for less than two years yet set a new senior 800m schools record of 1:49.42 in Tullamore and the man presenting him with his medal was, fittingly, his own coach and former world champion Eamonn Coghlan.
Runner-up Rob Tally (Gormanston) also broke the old record and an hour later Purcell came out and won a second gold in the 400m where his time of 47:83 was not far off Brian Gregan's six-year old schools' record of 47:66.
His hopes of triple gold were dashed when he pulled up with a hamstring injury in the 400X100m relay and he had to be stretchered off for treatment but still won the Lar Byrne Memorial trophy for 'Athlete of the Meet'.
A prodigy who needed no introduction was Colaiste Iosogain's Siofra Cleirigh Buttner who signed off her phenomenal schools' career by romping to victory in the senior girls' 1500m in 4:25, bringing her tally of school medals to a whopping 14 titles.
She was expected to go for a double in the 800m but, having achieved the World Junior 800m 'B' qualifying time several times already, the Dundrum South Dublin star opted to concentrate on getting it again in the metric mile, just days before she starts her Leaving Cert.
Yet, even without her, the senior girls' 800m proved a thriller and produced a surprise winner, as last year's intermediate champion Alannah Lally (Pres Athenry) got up with 50 metres to go to overtake title favourite Aislinn Crossey (SH Newry) and win in 2:08.28 which was inside the B qualifying time for World Juniors this summer.
Among the other teenagers catching the eye was Clare's Kevin Mulcaire (St Flannan's) who smashed the 36-year-old record with a solo run of 8:33.92 in the intermediate boys' 3000m and later held off 800m champion Mustafa Nasir (HFCS Rathcoole) to also win the 1500m with a brilliant finishing kick.
Sligo Grammar's Zac Irwin did his expected double in senior 100/200m and also completing impressive sprint doubles were Crescent CC's Laura Ryan (junior) and St Vincent's Dundalks' Gina Akpe Moses (intermediate)
Kate O’Connor of St Vincent's Dundalk did a most unusual double, winning the junior girls 800m before setting a new javelin record of 40.77 and there were also new schools' records for Katelyn Furlong (Colaiste Abbain) in intermediate hammer (47.61) and for St Mary's Newport's Maria Carey in intermediate triple jump (11.93).