AAI National Junior T&F 2020 – Day 2 (13th Sept)
A few months ago it was looking very unlikely that we would have any outdoor T&F competitions this year, but despite the cancellation of underage competitions, thanks to the sterling efforts of Athletics Ireland, we were fortunate to have some National Championships, the last of which, the AAI National Junior T&F, concluded on Sunday 13th September in a very warm and sunny Santry Stadium. As we’ve become accustomed to, there were no spectators allowed but despite the lack of atmosphere usually generated by a noisy crowd, the level of competition was excellent thanks to the large entries across all events.
Shauna Leydon competed in the triple jump where she got off to the best possible start with a new personal best of 10.83m in the opening round to put her in fourth place. She had no improvement in the second round and dropped to sixth place, but she bettered her personal best again in the third round with a leap of 10.85m to consolidate her sixth place position. This proved to be her best jump of the day to finish an excellent sixth place and expressed great satisfaction with her performance after. She hadn’t much time to rest though and quickly had to turn her attention to the 400m hurdles. As the final declaration of athletes would require more than one race, the event was run in seeded heats, with the overall positions decided on fastest times, and Shauna was drawn in the faster of the two heats. Running in the difficult outside lane Shauna put in a great effort to finish sixth in her race, and using the times from both races, a fine eighth place overall in a National final in what is still a new event for her.
There were three heats in the 800m where only the first two in each heat were guaranteed a place in the final, along with the next four fastest times, so competition was fierce. Andrew Daly and Brian Martin were drawn together in the first heat where they kept well in touch through the bell but with 200m to go Andrew began to drop back but Brian found an extra gear to move into fourth place, holding it to the finish comfortably qualifying for the final as one of the four non-automatic qualifiers, in fact his time would have been enough to actually win the other two heats. Unfortunately despite finishing well, Andrew did not advance to the final with Brian. As expected, the final set out at a fast pace and Brian went through the bell in the middle of the pack and full of running. Down the back straight for the final time he began to move through the field and with a terrific surge of pace began to quickly close down on fourth and third place, slowly winding them in and it looked like he might take fourth place in the finish straight but he was held off and had to settle for fifth place but was still extremely happy with his race after.
It was always going to be difficult to match the medal haul of day one but Shauna, Andrew and Brian are to be commended for their excellent efforts against the very best Junior athletes in Ireland, getting themselves into the best possible shape despite the lack of optimal training facilities for several months and the lack of competitions to prepare due to Covid-19, which they would have enjoyed in any other year.