AAI Junior & u/23 Indoors 2020 (25th Jan)
National indoor medals for Fagan, Glennon and Okafor
There was a long day of competition in Athlone IT on Saturday 25th January where the AAI Junior and u/23 Indoor Championships took place. In her first year competing in the Junior ranks, Eve Wallace contested the extremely competitive Junior women 60m heats and though she ran well did not advance to the final. Charles Okafor made short work of his heat of the Junior men 60m, winning comfortably to advance to the final where he stormed through the field with a late surge to finish in a new PB of 7.00 seconds, placing fourth, only three hundredths of a second off third place and the bronze medal. Charles was back on track later in the day for the heats of the Junior men 200m, and showed why it is his favoured event. Winning his heat with ease he advanced to the final where he powered around the tight indoor bends to take third place in a new PB of 22.11 seconds. This is Charles’ first All-Ireland Junior medal, which is a terrific result, as he is eligible for two more years. Patrick Leydon contested the u/23 men 400m and turned in a solid performance in his heat but did not advance to the final, but gave it every effort and he left nothing on the track.
Moving to the u/23 women 1,500m where the early laps were run at a very cautious pace, Claire Fagan bided her time in the pack but when the surge came was dropped to fourth place and by the final lap it looked like that’s where she would finish. However, she found an extra gear on the back straight and began to close the gap, and with a terrific sprint finish, moved into third on the home straight and held it to the finish to win the bronze medal. Buoyed up by this performance, Claire returned to the track in mid-afternoon for the u/23 women 800m. Wishing to avoid a repeat of the slow early pace of the 1,500m, Claire took the race out hard from the gun and led from start to finish, holding off a late challenge on the home straight, to win the All-Ireland title and get her indoor season off to a great start.
Taking the race out hard from the start of the Junior men 3,000m race walk, Matthew Glennon was just too good for the opposition and pulled further and further ahead with every lap to win by a big margin in a new PB of 12:55.20 and will be someone to watch in the season ahead. Mullingar’s race walkers continue to make their mark thanks to expert coaching by Michael Lane.
As expected, the 800m races were extremely competitive and though Aoife Darby raced hard in the final of the Junior women 800m, she had to settle for a place out of the medals. It was the same fate for Colin Smith in the final of the Junior men 800m but he will take a lot from his first race in the Junior ranks and is eligible for two more years. Advancing from a tough heat of the u/23 men 800m, Colin Smith (the other one!) lined up as a real medal prospect in the final. Run at a ferocious pace from the start but keeping in contention throughout, it was only in the final 100m that a gap began to open on the leaders that Colin just couldn’t close and he finished in fourth place, just out of the medals but he gave a great account nonetheless.
Congratulations to the Mullingar athletes that competed with great determination, winning three medals and recording three personal bests. They can look forward with confidence to further competition indoors in the coming weeks and months.