Darragh McElhinney delighted the home crowd with a superb solo display to break his own Irish U23 3000m record at the BAM Cork City Sports on Tuesday, the 21-year-old Cork athlete clocking 7:44.01 to come home almost five seconds clear of an international field.
“I’m delighted with that,” said McElhinney, who had broken John Treacy’s Irish U23 5000m record earlier in the summer. “I didn’t expect to get a gap on the field the way I did. I was just trying to get to the bell with a bit left and then give it everything.”
McElhinney came clear of Emile Cairess of Britain, while 17-year-old star Nick Griggs turned in another superb display, finishing sixth in 7:53.40, taking a whopping eight seconds off McElhinney’s Irish U20 outdoor record.
It was a night of special performances by Irish athletes, and none more so than in the men’s shot put, where John Kelly of Finn Valley broke the Irish senior record with 20.16m, breaking the Irish record of 20.07m set by rival Eric Favors of Raheny earlier this year.
That put Kelly third on the night, with Italian star Nick Ponzio taking victory with 20.71m. Favors also smashed his previous record mark with a throw of 20.11m in fourth.
Sarah Lavin produced the performance of her life to finish second in the women’s 100m hurdles, smashing her previous personal best of 12.93 with 12.84. The race was won by USA’s Jade Barber, who clocked a stadium and meeting record of 12.72.
“I really ran my own race tonight and I struggled with that at the Morton Games,” said Lavin, who clocked 13.10 three nights earlier in Dublin. “I held it all the way (tonight) and it was so important. There’s nothing like pressure to bring out the best in me.”
Lavin will now travel to the World Championships in Oregon, which get under way on Friday week.
“It’s massive from a mental perspective,” she said. “This is my seventh or eighth race in eight days and I was wondering how I was going to do this, but my coach has a plan and she rarely gets it wrong.”
Sarah Healy produced a superb kick to win a dramatic women’s 3000m, the 21-year-old smashing her own Irish U23 record with 8:46.14. But there was a nervous moment for the Dubliner approaching the finish, her legs failing her as she crashed to the track, her shoulders over the line – but only just – as she came to a stop.
“I felt good until the last 300 and then the last 40 metres I realised, this is not going to be pretty. That’s never happened to me before.” Asked about the effects of her fall, Healy said: “When you’re happy with the result, you don’t really feel it and I’m really happy with that.”
Two-time Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya of South Africa finished eighth in 9:11.71.
Phil Healy was a class apart in the women’s 400m, the Bandon AC athlete bringing the crowd to their feet as she pulled clear to clock 52.06 ahead of Cliodhna Manning (52.76).
“I was very happy with that, it was very windy down the back straight so I’ll take that,” said Healy, who’s bypassing this month’s World Championships to focus on the Europeans in August.
“We had a slow start to the season because Europeans is the main aim and that’s seven weeks away, but I was always going to come here. Cork is always my favourite meet of the year and it brings out the best of me.”
Israel Olatunde claimed a brilliant victory in the men’s 100m, clocking 10.31 ahead of Britain’s Sam Gordon (10.33), and there was a fitting finale for Irish athletics fans in the men’s mile where Clonliffe’s Cathal Doyle kicked to victory in 3:56.35.
“I wanted to wait until the last 100,” said Doyle, who was denied victory by two hundredths of a second at the Morton Games last weekend. “I had to come away with the win tonight or I’d have been disappointed.”
Doyle has been running of late with a broken bone in his wrist and fractured elbow, but it appeared not to bother him. “Just tape it up,” he said. “Be grand.”