AAI National Senior T&F 2020 – days 3 & 4 (29th/30th Aug)
As on days one and two, only athletes and officials were allowed into a cool and windy Santry stadium for days three and four of the AAI National Senior T&F on Saturday and Sunday 29th and 30th August. Due to Covid-19 restrictions on numbers attending, this year the Championships had to be stretched out over four days, in nine distinct sessions, in a very quiet spectator-free Stadium, but Athletics Ireland is to be congratulated on ensuring they went ahead in spite of the significant logistic headaches thrown up by the Covid-19 health requirements.
Mullingar interest was confined to Saturday and opened with Shauna Leydon in the triple jump, where she was one of the youngest competitors but the experience of competing at this level is invaluable and will stand to her ahead of the upcoming National Juniors. Overcoming a foul in the opening round, Shauna put together a good series of jumps, her best effort of 10.42m coming in the fourth round, to place a very creditable sixth place, which will give her confidence for the National Juniors.
First Mullingar athlete on the track on Saturday was Colin (D) Smith, running in the third of four heats of the 800m, where only the first two in each heat plus the next two fastest finishers would advance to the final, so qualification was very tough, which reflected in the standard of racing in the very competitive heats. Despite having to check his stride as the lead group bunched approaching the bell, Colin kept nicely in touch down the back straight and made his move with 200m to go but despite a great finish on the home straight, he was run out for fourth and unfortunately his time wasn’t quick enough to advance to the final as a non-automatic qualifier.
After a cautious start, an injection of pace a few laps into the 5,000m race walk saw the field quickly reduce to four with Sarah Glennon in a battle to hold on to third. Hampered by calf problems, Sarah battled on but was forced to drop back to fourth by the 2k mark and not long after that she knew she would be unable to carry on and was forced to withdraw. A huge disappointment for Sarah but hopefully it’s nothing serious and we’ll see Sarah in action again in the walk at the National Juniors.
Moving to the longer 10,000m race walk, the focus for Mullingar was on Matthew Glennon and Colm Walsh. Matthew is no stranger to the distance, but for Colm, this was his first time to race walk over 10k, so he was in uncharted territory. Matthew was in fifth place when he received his third red card warning and was stopped and directed to the penalty zone for a one minute time penalty. When he resumed, while he had obviously lost valuable time, he hadn’t lost his position and was still in fifth place but a further red card saw him disqualified and his race was over, which is always a risk in this very technical event. Meanwhile, coping admirably with the unfamiliar distance, Colm stuck to his task and was very satisfied to come home in an excellent fifth place in a National Senior race walk.