It was some weekend for Irish athletics with three gold medals and one silver lifting Ireland to seventh place overall on the Medals Table at the European U18 Championships in Hungary.
The wins are a celebration of the huge work that each of the athletes has put in and holds out the promise of what potential there is in the current young crop of runners.
Sarah Healy was the star not only of the Irish team but also of the whole Games with spectacular winning margins in each of the 3,000 and 1,500-metre races. She set Championship Records in both events and has achieved massive coverage across the media here and further afield.
She races out of Blackrock Athletics Club in South Dublin but also plays hockey for her school at Holy Child and the Avoca Club. She was also part of a three-time Championship winning Ladies Football team at Cuala GAA up until last year.
If all goes to plan she will race at the Morton Games in Santry next Friday night, giving Irish athletics fans another opportunity to see her burgeoning talent. She will not race at the Senior European Championships however as she has the Leaving Cert to prepare for next year and will be at Irish College while the games are on.
Rhasidat Adeleke was our other Gold Medallist on Saturday, at the tender age of only 15, while 16-year-old Sophie O’Sullivan took silver in the 800 metres and was presented with her medal by her Mum, former world Champion and Irish athletics legend Sonia.
Athletics Ireland deserves credit for ensuring that the story of these winners and the performances of their 23 strong team were relayed back to home via a smart social media presence led by Feidhlim Kelly.
The importance of telling the story and making the news available in real time was picked up by all the mainstream media and indeed by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who was sending his congratulations last night.
The meeting was covered on live streaming with highlights on Eurosport enabling RTÉ to feature the exploits as part of its main news bulletins but having the base level of content available was important on what was an incredibly busy sporting weekend.
Pure composure and pure class. Sarah Healy on her 1500m, double gold and certainly not as easy as it looks pic.twitter.com/vGs6fpUqrz
— Athletics Ireland (@irishathletics) July 8, 2018
This is a rare group of talented athletes. It was Ireland’s best ever performance at a major Championships at any age level and promises much for the future so long as the various hurdles from youth to senior can be navigated but they have already achieved more on the European stage than most can ever dream of.
In that alone, they will have inspired many to go out for that late run when their legs are aching and there is always something else that holds an appeal.
The Irish Life sponsored National Juvenile Championships will take place in Tullamore next weekend with many more runners looking to see what they can do, against their own previous bests, and hoping to follow in the footsteps of those who have led the way these past three days.
Content Credit: Athletics Ireland and Inpho.ie