The tricolour fluttered proudly in Utrecht as Ireland picked up two gold medals on the concluding day of action at the European Youth Olympic Festival.
Leevale’s Louise Shanahan delivered a superb performance to claim the 800m crown, with the 4x100m relay quartet also claiming top spot on the podium.
Shanahan knocked over two seconds of her personal best in a thrilling final, crossing the line in 2.08.75, just clear of Belgium’s Lotte Schelderman. The 16-year old is coached by her father and former Irish international Ray.
Directly following Shanahan’s win came the final of the 4x100m, where the Irish quartet of Laura Ann Costello, Roseanna McGuckian, Niamh McNicol and Phoebe Murphy were tipped for success, having posted the fastest semi-final time on Thursday. The Irish girls lived up to expectations, getting the baton around in 46.55, two tenths of a second ahead of Ukraine and Belgium. It was a second medal for McGuckian, who had earlier secured bronze in the 200m final with a lifetime best of 24.42. The Irish finished the track meet with a hugely credible medal haul of two gold, two silver and one bronze.
Meanwhile, at European Junior Championships in Italy, there was heartache for Phil Healy who finished fourth in the 100m final. The Bandon sprinter had been locked in a battle for the bronze with Klara Seidlova, but the Czech athlete prevailed, with Healy crossing in 11.96, her slowest run of the championships.
The 18-year old returned to the track little over an hour later for the semi-finals of the 200m, finishing fourth in the second semi in 24.44.
Marcus Lawlor cruised through the opening one of the 200m, finishing a comfortable second in heat one in 21.18. Lawlor returns to the track today (3pm) for the semi-finals.
Sarah Lavin continued her impressive form when qualifying for today’s final (3.45pm) of the 100m hurdles. The Limerick athlete was a comprehensive winner of her heat in 13.38, .02 outside her national junior record. Though her semi-final display of 13.45 was marginally slower, it was sufficient to advance.
Indeed, it proved a successful day for the Irish hurdlers in Rieti with Nessa Millet racing into the semis of the 400m hurdles. Millet secured one of the fastest loser spots when setting a PB of 59.69. In the men’s equivalent, Ben Kiely produced a lifetime best of 52.10 to advance to the semis, crossing the line second in his heat. Millet’s race is set for 2pm, while Kiely is scheduled for a 2.20pm start.
The sole disappointment was Karl Griffin who failed to emerge from the first round of the 800m. Griffin’s fifth place in 1.52.49 was not enough to progress.
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