The first World Athletics Continental Tour Bronze meeting to be held on the island of Ireland last night was an unequivocal success. The weather was good and the crowds came out in their droves at MTU stadium to witness a superb night of International Athletics and they were not disappointed.
There were Irish records galore as well as stadium and meeting records and many personal best performances. Many of the spectators came to see world superstars such as Caster Semenya and Lolo Jones but it was the Irish athletes who delivered the best performances to the cheering crowd.
The international part of the meeting got off to a flying start with the O Leary Insurances women’s 100m Hurdles producing a new meeting record and a personal best performance of 12.72 secs from Jade Barber, USA. The old record stood for thirty years. In second place was Irelands Sarah Lavin in 12.84 which was also a new personal best and takes her closer to Derval O Rourke’s Irish national record of 12.65.
In the Centra women’s 100m Molly Scott was looking for a European Championships qualifying time of 11.40 and just missed out when finishing in second place with an 11.41, albeit the wind reading was not within legal limits. The race was won by Kristal Awuah GBR in 11.38 with Scott and Joan Healy in second and third places separated by two hundredths of a second.
The SuperValu mens 100m saw the emergence of a future Irish sprinting star in Israel Olatunde when he won in 10.31 against the much fancied Henrico Bruintjies RSA beating him into third place behind Sam Gordon GBR. Olatunde was the first Irish winner of this event since 2008.
The BAM Ireland 200m was won by Sinesipho Dambile RSA in 20.56 with Ian Kerr BAH second and Leon Reid IRL in third place, marking his return after injury. Mark Smyth the Irish National Champion was fifth in 20.89.
The Cork City Council women’s 800m was to be a battle between Louise Shanahan, Isabel Boffey GBR and Christina Herring GER but sadly Shanahan had to withdraw before the race and Boffey was one of three athletes who fell in the early stages of the race leaving Herring to win easily in 2.02.31 from Eliza Megger POL.
In the Sport Ireland men’s 800m Sean Dolan from USA and Villanova University took the title in 1.46.97 from Filip Ostrowski POL and Jye Perrett AUS. Dolan is coached at Villanova University by Corks Marcus O Sullivan.
The Cork Airport women’s 400m was won by local favourite Phil Healy in 52.06 in gusting winds. This was Healy’s early season target as she prepares for the European Championships in Munich later in the season. She was followed home by Cliodhna Manning IRL and Carys McAulay GBR.
The BAM Ireland 3000m was to be a battle between Caster Semenya RSA and Irelands Sarah Healy but Semenya could not keep up with the pace set by Annais Bourgoin FRA. Healy and Stella Rutto ROM got away from the pack after the pacemaker had done her job. Rutto who was fresh from a 15.06 in a 5000m race recently pushed hard to try and drop Healy but Healy hung in and overtook Rutto around the final bend to the delight of the partisan crowd. Healy pushed hard and fell over the line having given her all, and producing a new personal best of 8.46.14 which is a NEW Irish U23 record. Rutto finished second with 8.47.36 and a fast finishing Georgia Hansen AUS in third with 8.47.67.
The John Buckley Sports mens 3000m suffered from the loss of several world class athletes in the last week but the star of the show was Cork’s Darragh McElhinney who took the race on from the start and chased the pacemaker for over four laps. After the pacemaker dropped out McElhinney was left on his own running into the wind on the back straight for over three laps. He built up a lead of ninety metres on a world class field while valiantly chasing the meeting record of 7.38.15 by Craig Mottram AUS. In the end it proved too much for him to do on his own but he came home in a new personal best time and Irish U23 record of 7.44.01 and the American Trophy for Athlete of the Meeting. Second was Emile Cairess GBR and third Eric Speakman NZL. Other notable Irish performances in the race were Nick Griggs 7.53.40 which is an Irish U20 record, Dean Casey 8.00.30 and Keelan Kilrehill 8.03.36, all stars of the future.
Cathal Doyle came to Cork from narrowly losing the Morton Mile on Saturday night to Andrew Coscoran. However, he made no mistake in his tactics on this occasion and won the race, in a new personal best with a devastating finish in 3.56.35 from Istvan Szogi HUN.
The field events were also of a high standard this year but the headliner performance must be when John Kelly and Eric Favors both broke Favors Irish record, with Kelly coming out on top with a throw of 20.16m to Favors 20.11m. They finishing third and fourth in a world class field. This places Kelly in 25th place on the European rankings with twenty six set to compete in the European Championships in August in Munich. Last time there was an Irish shot putter in the European Championships was in 1946. Nick Ponzio ITA who is an international star in the event and a regular competitor on the Diamond League circuit won the event with 20.71 from Andrew Liskowitz USA with 20.57.
The Long Jump was won by Jack Roach GBR with a jump of 7.85m from Zane Branco AUS in 7.73m. Reece Ademola IRL jumped 7.68m for third place to achieve the qualification standard for the World U 20 championships.
The womens High Jump was won by Emily Whelan AUS in 1.81 on countback from Daena Kealy IRL. The womens Hammer event was won by Katherine Jacobsen DEN in 68.07 from Suvi Koskinen FIN in 66.36.
It was a superb night of athletics at the MTU stadium for the BAM 69th Cork City Sports after a break of three years due to the Covid pandemic. I am sure supporters of athletics are already wondering what to expect from the 70th Cork City Sports.