A New Irish Record & Sports Extravaganza in Athlone
Dubliners believe it or not, there is life beyond the Pale. However they've managed it Athlone Institute of Technology have not only built an incredible sporting facility they have also developed an international athletics meeting with a growing reputation.
The latest event saw some Irish sporting history being made too.
While Ryan Gregson comfortably won his race in 3.57.86 it was former AIT scholarship student John Travers who wrote his name into the record books by becoming the first Irish man to run a sub 4-minute mile on home soil (3.59.40). The gracious Australian winner Gregson allowed Travers to take the limelight and applause of the crowd post-race. Grzeforz Kalinowski of Poland was the other man to run sub 4 minutes when he clocked 3.59.19.
Irish headliner Thomas Barr thrilled the home crowd with a come from behind victory in the final 40m of a brilliant Ericsson 400m men’s race.
The Deise native was the only athlete to dip under the 47-second barrier which was an amazing time for a 400m hurdles specialist. Barr was fulsome in his praise of the ecstatic sell-out crowd who he credited with helping him overtake Ricardo Dos-Santos of Portugal in the home straight.
The Bank of Ireland men’s pole vault proved to be a scintillating event. Current world champion Sam Kendricks and former world champion Shawn Barber had a big battle which was ultimately won by the current world champion Kendricks. The winning vault was a massive 5.70m. Kendricks had three valiant attempts at 5.80m which would have been an all-comers and stadium record in the AIT International Arena.
A packed Alkermes 800m men’s field treated the large crowds at the AIT International arena to a brilliant spectacle. Spaniard Kevin Lopez had to dig very deep into his reserves to hold off Irish hero Mark English. Lopez’s winning time of 1.47.43 while English came home in 1.47.48. The fact that Poland’s Mateusz Borkowski and Great Britain’s Andrew Osagie could only manage third and fourth respectively tells us what a fine run English gave.
A late addition to the field, Danaid Prinsen from the Netherlands pushed Latvia’s Liga Velvere into second place for the second year in a row in the Westmeath County Council women’s 800m. Prinsen (2.02.29) carried her form from last weekend where she became the Dutch national champion all the way to Athlone. Irelands Claire Mooney ran a personal best of 2.03..56 as she came third.
Jamaican Ryan Shields (6.63) was just 5 hundreds of a second off the stadium record to win the Hodson Bay and Sheraton Athlone Hotels men’s 60m from previous winner D’angleo Cherry USA. Dutch athlete Joris Van Gool rounded off the podium. One Irish man Dean Adams recovered from his DQ at the national champions last weekend to reach the final and run 6.88.
Another Dutch athlete was the winner in the DPDs women’s 60m. Naomi Sedney who was forth favourite before the race won in a time of 7.30 while pushing American Harrigan-Scott and Jamaican Calvert-Powell into the minor places. Joan Healy and Niamh Whelan put in strong performances in an excellent final.
Lindsay Lindley was the winner of a very competitive Athletics Ireland women’s 60mH in a rapid 8.04 as pre-race favourite Raven Clay only managed third place in 8.22. Dutch girl Eefje Boons was second with a time of 8.01. Irelands Sarah Lavin finished in fourth with a time of 8.35 which was 7 hundreds of a second ahead of compatriot Elizabeth Morland who beat Lavin in the national championships last Sunday.
Sofia Ennaoui put in a blistering final 300m to justify her favourite tag to win the Roscommon County Council women’s 1500m in 4.10.63. German girl Gesa Krause a perennial favourite at the AIT GP just took second place from Australian Zoe Buckman. Irish national champion Emma Mitchell ran a brave race to come fourth.
The AIT Sports men’s high jump almost had an Irish winner in Barry Pender who finished third on countback. The event favourite Jaroslav Bába won the event with 2.19m followed by Norbert Kobielski and Pender who both jumped the same height as Bába.
The Midlands Print women’s long jump was won by Irelands Sarah McCarthy with a winning jump of 5.62m. McCarthy was consistent throughout the night with 5 of her 6 jumps 5.53m+. AIT’s own Amy McTeggart taking second place with two 5.51m jumps.
Well done winners and organisers.