Kerryman David Kenny takes silver medal at European U-23 Championships

Kerryman David Kenny takes silver medal at European U-23 Championships

David Kenny. File photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

For race walker David Kenny, this was a day his coach, Rob Heffernan, had long believed would come. 

In Tallinn, Estonia, the 22-year-old from Farranfore won Ireland its first-ever race walk medal at the European U-23 Championships, clocking 1:25.50 behind Spain’s Jose Manuel Perez (1:25.06).

Kenny stalked the leader through halfway and maintained his position well over the gruelling final kilometres in warm conditions, capping a memorable afternoon for him and his coach, the 2013 world 50km race walk champion, who has long declared Kenny the next big thing in Irish race walking.

It was Ireland’s ninth medal in the 24-year history of the championships. Kenny will next compete at the Tokyo Olympics, for which he was selected earlier this week in the 20km event.

Stephanie Cotter was also in flying form in Tallinn, advancing to the 1500m final with a third-place finish in the heat in 4:15.88. 

There was no joy for rising multi-event star Kate O’Connor, who had to withdraw from the heptathlon after a below-par showing on the first day of competition. O’Connor had catapulted herself into contention for an Olympic place back in April with a superb Irish record of 6,297 points, but subsequent injury scuppered her chances and she fell out of a quota qualifying position in recent weeks.

Darragh McElhinney is the chief hope for the Irish on Saturday, the European U-20 5000m bronze medallist going in the 5000m at 6pm Irish time.

Meanwhile, at the Diamond League in Monaco, Ciara Mageean turned in a strong performance to finish fifth in a 1500m season’s best of 4:02.48, a race won by Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon in 3:51.07.

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