Silver lining for Lavin

Sarah Lavin picked up Ireland’s sole medal of the European Junior Championships in Rieti, crossing the line second in a dramatic 100m hurdles final on Saturday.

Lavin entered the final as the third fastest qualifier and her medal aspirations received a major fillip when Germany’s Franziska Hoffman, second quickest from Friday’s semis, was disqualified for a false start.

The 19-year-old seized on the initiative over the first three hurdles before Switzerland’s gold medal favourite Noemi Zbaren charged clear. Lavin and France’s Heloise Kane were left to scrap it out for silver, but the Limerick sprinter dipped first to ensure second place in a time of 13.34.

“I had a really good start, but I think I was last at the first hurdle, I had a real wobbler. So I was playing catch-up the whole way and I just kept going and going and just on the run in I caught the French girl and got up for second. I’m absolutely elated.

“Certainly my legs did begin to shake when she [Hoffman] got disqualified because I was so on edge. I am so, so happy to have got the national junior record and I think it could have been faster but for that first hurdle,” said a delighted Lavin.

Though the hurdler was the only Irish athlete to make it onto the rostrum, a spate of fourth-place finishes dominated the Irish involvement on the penultimate day of action.

Marcus Lawler was a comfortable qualifier for the 200m final, but his medal bid fell short in the race’s concluding five metres as he was overhauled by Britain’s Matthew Hudson-Smith.

Further fourth place finishes were recorded by Aislinn Crossey and Sean Tobin in the 800m and 1,500m respectively. Neither Crossey nor Siofra Cleirigh-Buttner, the other green singlet in the 800m final, were ever really in contention with Icelandic athlete Anita Hinriksdottir stringing out the field with a ferocious 58-second first lap. Crossey produced a terrific last 200m to move through the field and was rewarded for her finishing spurt with a personal best time of 2.03.93. Cleirigh-Butttner was eighth in 2.06.23.

Clonmel’s Sean Tobin set a lifetime of best 3.45.73 in the 1,500m final, narrowly missing out on bronze while Letterkenny’s Ruairi Finngean placed seventh in 3.46.80.

Leevale’s Luke Hickey set a personal best of 44.18.05 when finishing 13th in the 10k walk, while Dean Kiely clocked 51.98 for sixth in the 400m hurdles final.

Marcus Lawler, along with Keith Pike, Dean Power and Kieran Elliott, returned to the track yesterday for the semi-finals of the 4x100m relay and clocked a national junior record 40.60 for fourth place.

Meanwhile, Louise Shanahan, fresh from her gold medal-winning exploits at the European Youth Olympic festival during the week, claimed the U17 1,500m title at yesterday’s juvenile track and field championships in Tullamore.

The Leevale athlete patiently bided her time until making the decisive break with 150m to go, cruising to victory in a time of 4:51.79.

Jamie Murtagh took gold in the U19 high jump with a clearance of 2.07m, while David Cussen’s clearance at 2.10, equalling his pb, was enough to annex the U18 title.

Limerick’s Sophie Meredith took the honours in the U13 long jump with a best of 5.25m, while Michaela Walsh was also in record-breaking form throwing 13.48 in the U16 shot. Walsh returned later in the afternoon for the hammer event where she was also victorious.

Cork athletes filled the first four in the U18 long jump, victory going to Leevale’s Sam Healy’s jump of 6.87m.

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