The Millrose Games, the world’s longest-running indoor athletics event, used to be the preserve of Irish athletes, writes Stephen Barry.
The famous Wanamaker Mile has been won 19 times by five different Irish athletes since Ronnie Delany’s first of four successes in 1956. Seven-time champion Eamonn Coghlan and six-time winner Marcus O’Sullivan are both in the Millrose Games Hall of Fame, while Niall Bruton and most recently Mark Carroll (in 2000) won the race.
Recently, Ireland’s representation at the games has dwindled, but Kildare kid Bernard Ibirogba gave Irish eyes something to cheer at this year’s event.
Having qualified through a Fastest Feet competition that involved over 8,000 Irish children, the 8-year-old from Kildare raced to the Fastest Kid on the Block title over 55 metres, winning by a mere thousandth-of-a-second.
Ibirogba’s parents, Abiodun and Kudirat, who are originally from Nigeria and moved to Ireland in 2000, and his teacher/ coach Seán Connolly were in New York to watch the Scoil Naomh Pádraig student scorch to victory in 8.403 seconds.
The girls event also had an Irish representative, as Donegal’s Emily Kelly showed her speed as she came third in an impressive time of 8.97 seconds.
Former Irish Olympian Ray Flynn is the meet director at the Games.