Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sligo AC Update: Running Shoes!

A captivating European athletics track and field championships ended in Barcelona last week. Attending those championships as chairman of the Irish athletics federation high performance committee brought its own pressures and expectations with a large team of 34 athletes, team leaders and coaches. The target set by us was to win 2 medals and six top twelve placings. A brilliant silver medal win by Derval O’Rourke was our only medal win but we had a total of 11 top 12 finishes and in the process some outstanding performances. Throw in the fact that we had 6 Irish records and it will give some idea of the success of the championships from an Irish perspective. Brilliant and all as the medal win was you have to look at what Robert Heffernan achieved in Barcelona to get an idea of what real commitment and dedication to your sport means. He competed in two of the most gruelling events in the championships namely the 20k and 50k racewalks. Very unlucky to finish 4th in the 20klms he came out just 3 days later to claim 4th place in the 50klms. Rob epitomised the spirit of our team in Barcelona. Despite what criticism the media might have given athletes like David Gillick and Paul Hession, I still think they performed admirably. Ten years ago if someone said we would have three athletes in sprint finals at a European final they would have been laughed at. The fact that we were disappointed at a 5th and 6th place tells its own story. Altogether it was a very successful championships and gives us a great foundation as we head to the world championships next year and London in 2012. It was good to meet so many athletic fans from Sligo in Barcelona and in particular some young athletes. Let’s hope they were inspired by the Irish performances.
Next Saturday our county track and field team head to Tullamore for the National League Final. The target is promotion from the first division to the premier. With teams of the calibre of Ferrybank from Waterford, Tallagh from Dublin and Limerick county all vying from promotion places this will be no easy task. However with experience athletes such as David Kelly, Emmett Dunleavey and Martin Conroy coupled with the youthful enthusiasm of Tommy Carroll, Tommy Casey and David Burke we have every chance. Our field athletes will be crucial for picking up vital points and Aaron Murtagh and Alan Reynolds will hope to be in top form. It will take a supreme effort from all the team to gain promotion but I’m confident the team is up to the task.
Finally this week well done to Sligo AC athlete Emmett Dunleavy who ran a personal best time of 14mins36secs for 5000mts on route to victory in a race in Brussels on Saturday evening.

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