Emotional Adams powers to sprint win

AMID a tidal wave of emotion, Dean Adams tried to remain an oasis of calm. Shortly before the men’s 60m final at yesterday’s national indoor championships in Abbotstown, the 29-year-old Antrim sprinter stood behind his blocks during a tribute to Craig Lynch, a former rival and friend of his who died in a car accident last September.
Emotional Adams powers to sprint win

AMID a tidal wave of emotion, Dean Adams tried to remain an oasis of calm. Shortly before the men’s 60m final at yesterday’s national indoor championships in Abbotstown, the 29-year-old Antrim sprinter stood behind his blocks during a tribute to Craig Lynch, a former rival and friend of his who died in a car accident last September.

Lynch and Adams went way back. The first time Adams won a national medal in his teens, taking silver in a sprint event in Nenagh, it was Lynch who won gold. In 2016, Adams had returned from injury to make the national senior 60m final, where he finished sixth in 6.93 seconds. The first man over to him after that race was Lynch, who told him how glad he was to see him back.

That had been Lynch’s finest hour, the Shercock sprinter taking gold in 6.81. When he passed away last September, it rocked Adams to the core. Before yesterday’s final, the 29-year-old wrote “Lynch #justrace” on the inside of his bib.

Over the years Adams was often one to get overcome by nerves before races, and that was something Lynch often said to stop him over-thinking: “Just race”.

“That was tough to write because you want to win the race then,” said Adams.

He did exactly that, powering out of the blocks and leaving his rivals trailing as he claimed gold in 6.74 — nine years after his last national senior title. It was a goal that had been on his mind for months, especially after another tragic turn of events in January when one of Adams’ closest friends, Yul McAteer, died suddenly.

The last time they spoke was on Christmas Eve when they outlined their respective plans for the year. Adams’ told McAteer that night that his big goal for 2020 was to win the national 60m title, after which he planned to retire from the sport.

McAteer’s funeral was held the same weekend as the Scottish Indoor Championships in late January, a race Adams had long picked out to sharpen his form ahead of the Irish Championships. He decided the best way to honour his friend was to stick to that original plan they discussed and race in Glasgow, where he clocked a lifetime best of 6.81.

Three weeks later he lowered his PB to 6.73 in Athlone, which made Adams the hot favourite for gold yesterday. As hard as it was to hold it together for the race in Scotland, yesterday was even worse, with a round-of-applause for Lynch taking place moments before the race.

“I just wasn’t ready for it,” said Adams. “I didn’t think anything would be as tough as (the race in Scotland) but today was very tough.”

Adams held up his bib after the race and soon burst into tears. On the podium, he was presented with the Craig Lynch Cup by Lynch’s fiancee, Amy, and his mother, Ann.

His coach has been telling him in recent weeks to reconsider his decision on retirement, and Adams figures he now owes it to himself to see what he can do over 100m.

“I wanted to go out on a high but he said I’d regret not doing the 100. Maybe I’ll do four or five outdoor races and there’ll be no pressure.”

In yesterday’s semi-final he cruised to the line and was shocked to see his winning time of 6.78: “I was like, what is going on here?”

The key this season has been improved strength in his posterior chain, which has allowed Adams to build on his bullet start and put a more complete race together.

A native of Ballycare in Antrim, he works a full-time athletics development officer with Ulster University, which doesn’t leave him as much time to train as much as he’d like.

Having been injury-prone in the past, he operates with caution on a three-day cycle: track, gym, rest and repeat. “I’m trusting the body a lot more now,” he said.

If indeed this was his final indoor season, it’s one Adams can sign off on with great pride. Coping with an unfathomable level of emotion yet still producing his best when it mattered most — an achievement that would have made his two late friends extremely proud.

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