The 66th edition of the Cork City Sports has come and gone and preparations are already in the planning stages for the 67th event.
Tony O Connell, Chairman, and head of the finance committee for the Cork City Sports will be working tirelessly throughout the year to raise the money to continue this unique high quality event which provided a feast for the eyes of Cork sports lovers who turned out in their thousands on Tuesday night at the CIT stadium.
In retrospect Tuesday night was the best meeting put on by the Cork City Sports team in many years. Credit for this is spread over a small number of people who give up their time voluntarily for the love of the sport and their pride in the City of Cork. This years event could go toe to toe with the multi-million euro Diamond League events put on by major cities throughout Europe. Spectators were served up a Canadian National record, two meeting records, three stadium records, nine sub four minutes miles and six sub 9 minute womens 3000m times, as well as countless personal bests, which is extraordinary on a windy night. .
Despite the windy conditions the performances Tuesday night will go down in the records as one of the best ever on show across so many different events. Apart from the disappointing times in the mens 100m, due to headwinds of up to -5.4 metres per second, the standard of performances was outstanding in every event.
Canada’s Crystal Emmanuel won the John O Jagoe American Trophy for the outstanding performance of the meeting in winning the Cork Airport sponsored women’s 200m in 22.5 seconds and in the process smashed the 34 year old Canadian national record. This time was also a meeting record and stadium record. Phil Healy had a podium finish narrowly beaten into third place by Jodie Williams. Healy ran an excellent personal best of 23.32 raising her to number five on the Irish all time list. Barbara Pierre scored a one hundredth of a second victory over Emmanuel to take the Centra 100m title in a new stadium record.
The mens Supervalu 100m was a blanket finish with only one hundredth of a second separating four athletes with the victory going to Sean McLean USA in 10.61 while Ramon Gittens, Ryan Shields, Sydney Siame were all given the same time of 10.62. McLean came out later in the night to claim the Centra 200m in 20.53 seconds from Brandon Carnes USA and Leon Reid. This was an outstanding time considering the strength of the wind and came close to the meeting record of 20.34 set by Marlon Devonish in 2005.
Ida Storm from Sweden set a new meeting record and stadium record in the O Callaghan Properties sponsored womens hammer competition throwing 71.19 metres so close to her personal best of 71.52.
Emily Borthwick GBR won the AON Hewitt womens high jump on count back from Emma Nuttall GBR in a new personal best of 1.83 metres. Chris Baker GBR came so close to breaking the meet record of 2.30 in the FMC sponsored mens competition jumping 2.28 metres.
Chuk Enekwechi USA took the mens JCD Group sponsored shot putt title from Jacko Gill NZL, both throwing over 20 metres with Chuk coming close to the meet record of 21.47 set by fellow American Reese Hoffa ten years ago, when he threw 21.07 at CIT on Tuesday night.
One of the major star attractions of the meeting was Javier Culson in the 400m hurdles. Culson is one of the greatest performers in the world at this event. Sadly there was no Thomas Barr to bring pressure to bear on Culson who dominated the race and won easily in 49.78.
The Athletics Ireland womens 3000m was an outstanding race with six competitors going under the magical 9 minute barrier and the Danish orienteering superstar Maja Alm holding her own in a world class field to run 9.05.88. The event was a close battle between several athletes including Lauren Paquette and Nicole Tully from the USA and the eventual winner Sheila Reid of Canada in a time of 8.54.60.
The mens John Buckley Sports 3000m was billed as a rematch between Collis Bermingham AUS, two time winner of the title, and the title holder Reid Buchannan USA. It did not disappoint. In a fantastic race where the fast pace set by Luke Traynor and Jack Rayner stretched the field out early on, until it came down to these two athletes and a little known Ethiopian called Hiko Tonosa who battled it out all the way to the finish line. Bermingham pushed the race after the pacemakers dropped out in an effort to break the other two but they both hung in. With 250m to go Buchannan overtook Bermingham closely followed by Tonosa. It looked like Berminghams race was finished but the plucky Australian star showed guts and determination and fought back coming down the finishing straight, caught Tonosa but could not catch the fast finishing Buchannan who threw everything into his last 50 metres knowing that Bermingham was closing on him. The American showed gritty determination and would not be beaten to retain his title for another year. The race had the crowd on their feet.
The final race of the night was the Johnson Controls Mile. In recent years where the mile has been on the programme the greatest number of people who went under 4 minutes was seven in 2014 and that race won by Kyle Merber of the USA in 3.56.72. In the last two years there has only been one sub 4 minute mile at the Cork City Sports. The 2017 race has rewritten the record books with nine athletes going sub 4. The race was won by the University of Oregan star athlete Sam Prakel who held off Stewart McSweyn AUS over the last thirty metres. Sean Tobin IRL ran a very courageous race to finish in third place as he remained strong in the finishing straight and ran his second personal best inside a week when running 3.57.00.
The athletes, sports agents and media have praised both the high standard of the meeting and level of organisation. The athletes felt that they were warmly received by everyone they met associated with the Cork City Sports. Alycia Cridebring who was one of the athletes to break 9mins in the 3000m reflected this in an email saying “I just wanted to send a short note and thank you all for helping to put together such a wonderful meeting at the 66th Cork City Sports! It was my first time visiting Ireland and I thought Cork was such a beautiful city and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to visit there and compete. I know many of the athletes felt very well taken care of and appreciated being able to participate in such a competitive meet. I even got my new 3000m personal best!”
The live TV coverage by TG4 added a new dimension to this historic meeting. Kathryn Davis did a fantastic job in producing the first in a multi-year coverage of this event. The inter firm relay allowed non athletes to compete on the same stage as world class athletes. The presence of former Irish stars such as Marcus O Sullivan, Ray Flynn, Sonia O Sullivan, Derval O Rourke showed their connection to this meeting still exists with Marcus and Sonia having their children compete this year. Thanks to the Cork public for coming out and supporting the athletes and officials. And so the curtain comes down on the 66th Cork City Sports and the thoughts of the organising committee are already on how to make the 67th even better.