Buckley In Top 10 as Olatunde, Raftery, and O’Connor Progress to European Finals

ByEmma Porter |

Jane Buckley (Leevale AC) has secured Ireland’s first top-10 finish at the European Athletics U23 Championships in Finland this evening (13th July). The Leevale athlete crossed the finish line for 9th place (16:02:22) in a hugely tactical women’s 5,000m final which was the final event of the day’s bumper schedule.

It continues a stunning season for Buckley which has already seen the Cork athlete finish 13th in the hugely competitive NCAA 5,000m final for Providence College last month.

Speaking after the race, Buckley spoke about the injection of pace at the 3,000m mark which stretched open the field, she said, “It really went out slow which caused plenty of tripping at the start and the race really sped up over the last 2km, but I had expected that. I’m happy with 9th but I still want more. I’m enjoying my time out in Providence and it’s benefitting my running so I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do.”

The medals went the way of Megan Keith (GB) in 15:34:33, Maria Forero (ESP) 15:43:22, and Amina Maatoug (NED) 15:50:83.

Israel Olatunde (UCD AC) saved his best performance of the season for when it mattered, booking his place in yet another European 100m final (Fri 6.50pm Irish time). The Irish 100m record holder clocked a 10.32 season’s best to finish 4th in the first of the heats to take one of the fastest non-automatic qualifying places.

Jack Raftery (Donore Harriers) produced the run of his life in the semi-final of the men’s 400m to claim his place in tomorrow evening’s medal decider (Friday 5.20pm Irish time). The Donore Harriers athlete crossed the line in a blistering 45.89PB to secure third place and an automatic qualifying spot.

Ava O’Connor (Tullamore Harriers) backed up her recent National U23 Championship Record to produce an expertly judged 3,000m steeplechase performance, taking FIVE seconds off her personal best in the process. The Tullamore athlete never looked like being outside the automatic qualification places for Saturday’s final, ultimately crossing the finish in a comfortable 7th place (10.02.92PB).

Reece Ademola (Leevale AC) did not advance from this afternoon’s qualification round in the Long Jump with his best attempt of 6.99m (-3.8m/s) unfortunately outside the top 12 positions. The 20-year-old Leevale star is sure to use the experience on his return to these championships in the future.

Tomorrow will see Irish athletes compete in a ‘feast of finals’, getting underway with Shay McEvoy (Kilkenny City Harriers) and Callum Morgan (Candour Track Club) in the 5,000m final from 9.30am (Irish time).

Attention will then turn to James Ezeonu (110mH) and Cian McPhillips (800m) in their respective heats before Israel Olatunde (100m), Jack Raftery (400m), and Nicola Tuthill (Hammer) take to their finals later in the evening.

All the action from Espoo is streamed live on All Athletics TV in partnership with RTE.

  • Day 1 Results HERE.
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