Sarah Lavin (Emerald AC) and Israel Olatunde (UCD AC) brought the curtain down on a thrilling final day of the 151st edition of the 123.ie National Track and Field Championships (July 30th).
Lavin remarkably set three personal best performances on her way to today’s 100m gold, made all the more remarkable having claimed the 100m hurdles title only 24 hours previous.
The Emerald AC star saved her best performance of the day for this evening’s sprint final, clocking a lifetime best of 11.53 to make her own bit of championship history. Lucy May Sleeman followed Lavin home for a superb silver in 11.85, while Mollie O’Reilly (Dundrum South Dublin AC) continued her run of ultra-consistent performances to claim bronze in 11.86.
Israel Olatunde was pitched as one of the star names of this year’s championships and the recent European U23 finalist duly delivered to claim his third national senior 100m title in a row (10.50). The UCD athlete was made to work for the 2023 title with clubmate Bori Akinola (UCD AC) right on Olatunde’s shoulder at the halfway point. Akinola would ultimately settle for silver in 10.58, with recent European U23 star Garbriel Kehinde (Ennis Track) racing his way to bronze in 10.70.
An intriguing rematch between European U23 medallists Sophie O’Sullivan (Ballymore Cobh AC) and Sarah Healy (UCD AC) was billed as potentially the race of the day, and it didn’t disappoint with Healy and O’Sullivan going toe-to-toe from the gun in a race that had the crown in Morton Stadium on their feet coming into the final lap.
Ultimately it was Healy who mustered a final finishing surge to break free of O’Sullivan in a hugely tactical affair to claim her third outdoor 1500m title in a time of 4:11.39. O’Sullivan crossed in 4:12.00 to all but secure her place at the upcoming World Championships.
The men’s 1500m race also turned into a dual with Cathal Doyle (Clonliffe Harriers) getting the better of Nick Griggs (Candour Track Club) to retain his 1500m crown in a time of 3:40.11. Griggs, who led for much of the race, followed Doyle over the line in 3:40.11 and will now turn attention to the upcoming European U20 Championships which saw the Candour athlete win double gold back in 2021. Shane Bracken (Swinford AC) stayed on strongly to finish best of the pack in 3:42.05 for bronze.
Sharlene Mawdsley (Newport AC) produced one of the performances of the day in the women’s 400m final, cruising clear of a field which included the class of Sophie Becker (Raheny Shamrock), Roisin Harrison (Emerald AC), and Phil Healy (Bandon AC).
Mawdsley looked in control from the gun, crossing the finish in isolation in a time of 51.94 for her second outdoor 400m title. Becker was a clear second (53.10), with Harrison getting the better of Healy for third (53.93).
North Sligo’s Christopher O’Donnell arguably put in his best ever national championships performance to secure his fifth 400m title. O’Donnell was just two-tenths of a second outside his season’s best, crossing in a time of 45.97. Callum Barid (Ballymena and Antrim AC) picked up a brilliant silver in 46.88 to hold off a resurgent Brian Gregan (Clonliffe Harriers AC) 46.96.
Louise Shanahan (Leevale) made it three national titles in a row with a trademark ‘sit and kick’ win in the women’s 800m. A winning time of 2:03.13 ensured Shanahan’s domination of the 800m national title continued, an impressive feat given the strength in depth across Irish 800m running. Jenna Bromell (Emerald AC) ran a brave race from the front for silver (2:05.16) with Georgie Hartigan (Dundrum South Dublin) picking up bronze (2:08.98).
John Fitzsimons (Kildare AC) followed up his recent win at the Morton Games to reclaim gold in a star-studded men’s 800m (1:47.13). The Kildare AC athlete was ideally placed coming around the final bend and his finishing kick was enough to see him stretch clear of Harry Purcell (Trim AC) 1:48.03 and Mark Milner (UCD) 1:48.48.
Thomas Barr (Ferrybank AC) picked up his 11th Irish title with an impressive 49.85 in the men’s 400mH final, while Jessica Tappin (Clonliffe Harriers AC) stopped Kelly McGrory’s (Tír Chonaill AC) bid for three-in-a-row with a winning run of 57.20.
A stacked men’s 5,000m race promised to deliver something special in the opening race of the evening session, and it didn’t disappoint with Brian Fay (Raheny Shamrock) making his move with 4 laps to go in a leading pack of four athletes including Efrem Gidey (Conliffe Harriers), Cormac Dalton (Mullingar Harriers), and Pierre Murchan (DCH). That pack soon became two with Dalton and Fay duking it out on the penultimate lap before a 55-second last lap saw the Irish record holder storm clear to claim the title in 13:39.21. Dalton would cross in 13:44.43, with Gidey third for Clonliffe in 13:55.10.
The women’s 5,000m went the way of Ide Ni Dhomhnaill (West Limerick AC) who has continued her rapid rise over the last 12 months, adding gold today to last year’s national 10k title. The West limerick AC athlete raced tactically superb, unleashing a race winning kick with 600m to cross in a winning time of 15.44.04. Roisin Flanagan (Finn Valley AC) battled bravely to regain second place on the run-in from Shona Heaslip (An Riocht).
Full Day 2 Report HERE
The walks opened today’s action and it was David Kenny (Farranfore Maine Valley AC) who secured his third 10,000m track title with a massive PB of 40.20.18 to move up to 5th on the Irish all-time list. The Farranfore star will now turn his attention to preparations for the upcoming World Championships where he’ll return to action in the 20k Race Walk.
Kate Veale (West Waterford AC) won her 8th outdoor 5,000m title with another solo walk for gold, crossing with over five minutes to spare on silver medal winner Sinead Maher (South Galway AC) in a winning time of 22:01.18.
Finley Daly (Sligo AC) claimed his first national senior title with a runaway win in the men’s 3,000m steeple chase, crossing the finish in a winning time of 8:56.66.
The field events delivered some outstanding performances on the day, no more so than the men’s high jump competition which was one of the best Irish high jump competitions in recent years. Reece Ademola secured gold with a new lifetime best of 7.96 NU23R on his final jump of the day having already posted 7.93 with his opening attempt. Sam Healy (Leevale AC) took home silver with 7.61m, and Shane Howard (Bandon AC) the bronze 7.46.
The women’s long jump also saw a new star announce herself on the senior championships with Elizabeth Ndudi (Dundrum South Dublin) backing up her indoor title with gold today thanks to her best jump of 6.00m. The DSD athlete finished ahead of multi-medal-winners Saragh Buggy (St Abban’s) 5.94m and Kate O’Connor (Dundalk St. Gerards AC) 5.82m.
The pole vaulters put in the bravest of performances today, battling consistent rain and the occasional gusts across both the men’s and women’s competitions. Michael Bowler (Enniscorthy AC) managed the conditions best in the men’s competition, clearing 4.60m to claim his third outdoor pole vault title, the last coming in 2019.
Ellie McCartney (City of Lisburn) was last standing in the women’s competition, bettering her seasons best of 4.25m with a winning 4.31m.
Rounding out the 150th Anniversary of the 123.ie National Track and Field Championships were the 4x400m relays where Dundrum South Dublin walked away with a double gold in the men’s and women’s race.
Full results can be found here.