Double national gold successfor Harriers’ Charles Okafor
Charles Okafor was a class apart in winning the sprint double at the National Junior T&F last Saturday, and with gold too for Matthew Glennon in the Junior 5,000m walk and gold for our master athletes Colm Walsh and Sean McMullin in the 5,000m walk and Tom Walsh in the weight for distance at the National Masters T&F last Sunday, it was certainly a golden week-end for Mullingar.
In these Covid-19 times, we’re growing accustomed to a Santry stadium empty of spectators and only athletes and officials allowed in, and that’s how it was for day one of the AAI National Junior T&F last Saturday.
Originally scheduled for just one day, to cope with the very large number of entries and keep within the 200 limit at outdoor events, Athletics Ireland had to add a second day, which will be this Sunday.
Athletics Ireland is to be congratulated on ensuring the event went ahead in spite of the significant challenges presented in complying with the Covid-19 health requirements.
Unable to finish the senior walk the week before, Sarah Glennon was looking to make amends in the 3,000m walk. Suffering no problems this time, though she was still not at her best, Sarah put in a better performance but was unable to keep in touch with a surge in pace after one kilometre but pushed on and had to settle for a place out of the medals in fourth place.
Leading from the start of the 5,000m walk, Matthew Glennon set a cautious early pace to settle into the race but at the one kilometre mark he injected a bit of pace to open a gap on the field, increasing it with every lap until after a consummate display of race walking he had a commanding lead of half a lap at the bell to come home in first place in 23:23.66. This was a fine display by Matthew and will help him erase the memory of the disqualification he suffered in the senior walk the week before.
Winning his heat of the 100m with ease in a time very close to his best, Charles Okafor lined up in the final as a serious contender for honours and did not disappoint. With a relatively slow start by his standards, Charles trailed in fourth at the halfway point but then got fully into his running and absolutely surged through the field to take the lead and win his first National Junior title in a new personal best time of 10.92 seconds into a noticeable headwind of 1.3 metres per second. This was his first time under 11 seconds and there’s no doubt but there is plenty more to come.
The rain came down heavy for the 200m heats but that didn’t bother Charles who won his heat with ease to advance to the final. The final was run in pouring rain and with a stiff headwind on the home straight, so far from ideal for sprinters.
Blasting from lane three, Charles quickly made up the stagger on the outside lanes and came into the straight in the lead and continued to drive on to win in 22.16 seconds into a noticeable 1.2 metres per second headwind to take his second National Junior title of the day.
As the final declaration of athletes in the 1,500m would require more than one race, the event was run in seeded heats, with the overall positions decided on fastest times. Andrew Daly ran in the first heat where he kept in contention and drove hard to the end to finish a very creditable fifth. That left Colin (P) Smith and Brian Martin flying the flag for Mullingar in the second heat.
Knowing the times of the first heat meant that those in the second knew what they had to do to get in the medals. After a cagey opening lap, the pace suddenly ramped up and it was race on for the leaders, with Colin and Brian keeping in close contact.
By the bell, the pace was so quick and the gap to the front runners too much that both Mullingar men knew they were not going to get in the medal places but pushed on to finish strongly. When the results were combined, the three Mullingar men finished out of the medal places but all gave very good accounts.
Conditions improved significantly overnight and on Sunday it was cool but dry and bright in an eerily quiet Santry for the AAI National Masters T&F. Colm Walsh went out strongly from the start of the 5,000m walk, tracking the early leader and keeping within striking distance but careful not to fall foul of the ever vigilant judges and risk picking up penalties.
Meanwhile, Sean McMullin worked away steadily further back, dominating his own category as expected. Both Mullingar men continued to drive on as the laps counted down.
With two laps to go the long time race leader was disqualified putting Colm in the lead and he held it all the way to the end, arms aloft as he crossed the line in first place. Finishing strongly behind him in third place overall was Sean, comfortably winning his category and even beating all but one man 15 years his junior, such is Sean’s prowess as a race walker.
Pauric Brady and Gerard Gavin contested the very competitive 1,500m where both men put in great efforts in their races but the relatively short distance wasn’t to their liking on this occasion and they had to settle for places out of the medals but top marks for their competitive spirit against the best masters in Ireland.
Over at the 35 pounds weight for distance event, Tom Walsh was in second place by just one centimetre with 7.05m after two attempts but on his third of four attempts, he launched the weight out to 7.21m to take the lead, which proved the best of the day and he was delighted to win the National title and add to Mullingar’s medal haul.
The day finished with the 5,000m where there were so many entries that they were split into five separate races with Patrick Muldoon running in the first race where he stuck gamely to his task but despite his best efforts he finished out of the medals.
The Morton Juvenile Live last Friday evening in Santry was an open juvenile T&F meeting aimed at younger athletes that had their Regional and National Championships cancelled due to Covid-19.
Great credit is due to the Dublin County Board and David Matthews the Athletics Ireland Development Officer for the Dublin Region, for organising the event in these very challenging times.
Given his ranking in the sprints, Kyle Faherty was drawn in the faster of the two races of the 80m U14 and despite cool, showery conditions, which are not conducive for sprinting Kyle finished a very close second in 10.49 seconds into a stiff 2.2 metres per second headwind, only four hundredths of a second behind the winner.
This was Kyle’s first and only outdoor race this year, so he was very happy to have run so well.
Morton Live continues this Friday evening for seniors where Claire Fagan is entered in the mile and our two Colin Smiths in the 800m, which we hope won’t confuse the race commentator!
Possibly the last T&F event with a Mullingar interest in this very strange season, the AAI National Juniors concludes on day two this Sunday and among the events with Mullingar interest will be the 800m, triple jump and 400m hurdles and we wish our athletes the very best of luck as they compete for National honours.
We need to remind everyone attending training sessions at the club grounds that they must pre-register for every session using the online form.
This is very important, as the form includes a declaration about your health.
On arrival at the club, everyone’s attendance must be recorded, which is done by the coaches in the case of underage members but adult members can download the QR app and do it themselves if they wish.
Anyone attending for training that has not pre-registered shall not be allowed to train. This is a strict requirement around contact tracing and is for everyone’s safety, so please pay your part.
For the latest news, results and details of fixtures check the Club’s Facebook page or the website at www.mullingarharriers.com.