National medals and personal bests, what more could you ask of our athletes who travelled to Dublin on Saturday & Sunday last to take part in the National Junior & U/23 Track and Field Championships. With this being the first major event for athletes following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, they were one of the most competitive championships in years with heats and finals in all events. That our athletes came home with 5 national medals – 1 individual and 4 relay medals – speaks volumes of the hard work these young athletes have put in over the past couple of years and in particular this year. Under the tutelage of coach Martin Flynn, the junior ladies, Katie Bergin, Aisling Dwyer, Aoife Dwyer, and Leona Maher have improved year on year and with our lone junior man, Jack Hickey now under the reins at UL with Hayley & Drew Harrison their commitment is second to none. Dedication and hard work pay off and will continue to pay dividends in the future.
A national individual track medal is so hard earned and on Saturday Katie Bergin showed her class over 200mts to clinch third place and national junior bronze. 21 athletes took part in this event with four of our club included – Katie, Aisling Dwyer, Aoife Dwyer, and Leona Maher. Aoife and Leona were seeded together in H2 with both girls giving it their all to finish 4th (27.79) and 6th (28.09) respectively. H3 saw Katie and Aisling also seeded together and again both gave it everything to finish 1st (25.39) and 6th (27.58) respectively with Katie qualifying for the final by virtue of this victory. A while later she was on the track again for the final and in a very hotly contested race came through for third place in a new personal best time of 25.39 and a hard-earned national bronze medal. Well done, Katie.
Our lone male, Jack Hickey, was competing at U/23 level and his first event was the 200mts on Saturday, an event he has not ran for a while. Again, plenty of opposition – 14 in total – meant the heats would be fast and indeed Jack finished an excellent 4th in his heat in a new personal best time of 22.70 which was enough to see him through to the final. Appearing on the track later in the day he ran a terrific race from Lane 1 to be in with a shout coming off the final bend, but the stronger and older athletes got away with Jack coming through for 8th in a time of 23.42. Well done Jack on a great effort.
The girls were due to compete in the 4 x 400mts relay, but with Katie called up to the Irish relay squad at the same time, it meant no event for the girls. However, Katie once again donned the spikes and ran the final leg of the 400mts relay for the third Irish team and in the process recorded the second fastest time for the team.
It was an early start for the 400mts athletes on Sunday with a 10am start for the heats but fair play to Katie and Jack as they took their places in their respective events – Junior 400mts and U/23 400mts. Again, both events were stacked with 19 ladies and 14 men taking part. Katie was first into action and produced a personal best performance of 59.09 to finish third in her heat and earn a spot in the final while Jack with a very determined run and carrying a niggling injury from the previous day’s racing finished 6th in his heat in 53.75. A few hours later Katie competed in the final and posting a time of 60.37 she came through to take 7th place – all athletes facing a strong headwind which did not help them in their efforts for qualifying times for the Euro U/20 championships – this is the level Katie is now competing at and indeed Jack as athletes in his events are seeking Euro U/23 standards.
In between times the three girls, Leona, Aoife, and Aisling were in action in the 100mts. 25 athletes lined up in three heats with Leona first away to post a new personal best of 13.21 when finishing 8th in her heat. Aoife followed and posted a new personal best of 13.17 to also finish 8th with Aisling going one better to finish 7th in her heat and equal her best time of 13.19. While none were successful in reaching the final, they all have another couple of years at this level and no doubt will succeed in that effort. Posting personal bests and equalling personal bests is equally as good.
One of the final events on the track was the 4 x 100mts relay and despite two long days of competition the girls were looking forward to seeing what they could achieve. Lining up with six other teams including the Irish National Team they produced a terrific performance over each of the four legs to be racing down the finishing straight battling it out for first place but the dip on the line saw them come through for second, a fantastic performance, and posting a new club record of 50.29 in the process. Well done girls on keeping us all on the edge of our seats right up to the very end of two days of marvellous competition.