Irish athletes Nick Griggs and Nicola Tuthill had mixed emotions after securing top-10 finishes at the World U20 Championships in Cali, Colombia, last night. Griggs finished ninth in the men’s 3000m final in 8:04.42, a race won by Ethiopia’s Melkeneh Azize in 7:44.06, while Tuthill finished eighth in the women’s hammer throw with 60.47m, which was won by Italy’s Rachele Mori with 67.21m.
Given what he was up against, Griggs was content with his finish. Having never trained or raced at altitude before – Cali sits at over 1000m – he “felt awful” during his qualifying heat on Wednesday and he was put to the test early in the 3000m final as Uganda’s Dan Kibet blasted the first lap in 57 seconds. Griggs sat off the pace and tracked Eritrea’s Habtom Samuel, the 5000m bronze medallist, and he finished just behind him, with Griggs the second non-African finisher.
“It wasn’t for me today, but I’ll be back,” said Griggs. “No excuses, but when I did my first training (in Cali) session I felt awful. I’ve not been to altitude yet.”
Asked what he learned from his first global level, Griggs said: “It’s not as simple, if you think you’re going to win every race, medal at every race, it’s not going to happen. But I’m delighted I’m here; it’s a great chance to compete against some top athletes and it’s a lot to take away, the experience of racing against Africans for the first time. There’s a lot of viable knowledge gained and we’ll go back and assess for next season.”
Tuthill faced difficult conditions for the hammer, with a thunderstorm interrupting the final and causing a two-hour delay before it was resumed. Two days prior, she had broken her PB to qualify with 61.87m but she couldn’t quite reproduce that, throwing a best of 60.47m.
“It just wasn’t there today, my legs were dead,” said Tuthill, who has made an astonishing comeback in recent months after fracturing and dislocating her elbow during a competition earlier this year.
“But I got here in the first place, I made the top eight, and I wasn’t supposed to do that in March.”
Elsewhere Eilish Flanagan finished sixth in the final of the 3000m steeplechase at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham yesterday, the Finn Valley athlete clocking 9:57.18, while Ciara Mageean coasted through to Sunday’s 1500m final by winning her heat in 4:13.52.