Team Ireland’s 50km Race Walkers took to Sapporo Odori Park this morning with Brendan Boyce putting in one of the performances of his career to finish 10th in a time of 3:53:40, less than three minutes outside the medals. His Team Ireland teammate Alex Wright also impressed in 29th, his highest finish ever at a global championship, in a Season’s Best time of 4:06:20.
The third round of the Women’s Individual Stroke Play got underway in Tokyo with Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow currently placed well inside the top 20, with the remaining day’s play still to be completed. It was a day of mixed fortunes for the pair, with Meadow carding a round of 68 to move her into a tie for 10th, while Maguire - who got off to a hot start – dropped three shots on the 9th, to finish with a round of 70 and moves down into a tie for 18th.
Team Ireland’s 50km Race Walkers took to Sapporo Odori Park this morning for the longest event of the Athletics programme.
Brendan Boyce put in one of the performances of his career to finish 10th in a time of 3:53:40, less than three minutes outside the medals. His Team Ireland teammate Alex Wright also impressed in 29th, his highest finish ever at a global championship, in a Season’s Best time of 4:06:20.
Boyce went with the lead pack from the off, holding that position in a group of 22 men through to the halfway mark. Wright spent most of the first half of the race in the second and third packs, positioned in the thirties and walking in relative isolation for long stretches.
An early morning start of 5:30am, was intended to dampen the extreme conditions, but the athletes still faced temperatures in the thirties, and intense humidity for their four-hour effort.
As the race entered its final hour, both Irishmen began to pick up places, with Boyce up to 11th with 10km to go, and Wright in 36th. Working most of the final stages of the race in isolation, both finished very strongly to cement their positions in the top 10, and top 30.
Boyce was happy that his pre-race tactics paid off saying: “The race tactics were good, it was kind of the way I planned – to go out steady and push through the race.”
After finishing 6th at the 2019 World Championships in the event, Boyce wanted to re-enforce his World Class status this morning adding: “I worked for the top ten definitely so I’m happy – happy to get that kind of a result in these conditions and back up what I did two years ago in Doha.”
It is likely to have been the final edition of the 50km event on the global stage, with a 35km race set to replace it at next year’s World Championships, leaving both Boyce and Wright with career decisions to make. Uncertain of where his future lies after today Boyce said: “I guess this is the end of the road for 50km so it’s a new life for me after this, we’ll see how it goes next year.”
The third round of the Women’s Individual Stroke Play got underway in Tokyo with Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow currently placed well inside the top 20, with the remaining day’s play still to be completed.
Despite giving herself a host of opportunities, Meadow was level par after 9 holes of her third round. Birdies on the 6th and 7th were counterbalanced by bogeys on 1 and 9, but it was the finishing holes at Kasumigaseki that really caught the Jordanstown woman’s eye – finishing with three birdies in her final 6 holes to post a 68.
Speaking afterwards, Meadow said that patience was key for her today: “Yeah definitely. The entire front – well, most of the round – I felt like if I just kept hitting it in there at some point, they’d have to drop. I guess one thing is, I had a few misreads and a couple of bad putts, it wasn’t like I was hitting them perfect, so I couldn’t get too mad at myself. It was part of it, but it was nice to finish strong.
“I hit it really well today it could have been a low one, but I’m just happy I gave myself a lot of opportunities and hopefully I can tie that together tomorrow with making some putts. I’m in with a chance, so that’s all I can ask for.”
Meanwhile, Leona Maguire birdied her opening two holes, and also birdied the 7th and 8th to get to 8-under par and one shot outside the medal positions early on. However an uncharacteristic triple-bogey 7 on the ninth proved costly and, with just one more birdie on the back 9, she finished 1-under for her round and on 5-under total.
“I’m frustrated,” she said afterward. “I got off to a much better start and I felt like I made up a lot of ground early and then just threw it away on 9, pretty much. I didn’t feel like I hit all that bad of a shot, like I thought I hit the second shot real nice and it just clipped that tree… Things could have gone a lot differently if that ball had have just gone a little bit higher, a little bit lower but, that’s golf.”
Maguire shot a course record equalling final round 61 at the Evian Championship just two weeks ago, and feels something similar will be needed tomorrow if she is in with a shot.
“I think I’ve been playing the front 9 pretty well, I haven’t quite figured out the back 9 yet. Like I said, I need to hit more fairways, give myself chances, hole a few putts and try and do what I did last week at Evian I guess.”
Meadow and Maguire grew up playing amateur golf for Ireland together but have only played in the same pairing a handful of times as professionals. Today, they teed up alongside each other at an Olympic Games.
“I mean even for the both of us to be on the LPGA tour coming from a country that really had no one before, I think that’s pretty amazing,” Meadow reflected. “We’ve come a long way. She’s had a great year and hopefully I can build off this and have a good end of the season. I think we’ve done pretty well for ourselves, so I think she is as proud as I am.”
MORNING RESULTS DAY 13: AUGUST 5TH, 2021
Men’s 50km Race Walk: Brendan Boyce, 10th in 3:53:40
Men’s 50km Race Walk: Alex Wright, 29th in 4:06:20
Women’s Individual Stroke Play, Round 3 – Leona Maguire, , 71, 67, 70, - T18 with third round to be completed
Women’s Individual Stroke Play, Round 3 – Stephanie Meadow, 72, 66, 68 - T10 with third round to be completed
DAY 14 SCHEDULE (ALL TIMES ARE IRISH TIME): August 6th, 2021
Schedule may be subject to change
06:48 Modern Pentathlon – Natalya Coyle – Women’s Individual, Swimming 200m Freestyle
07:45 Modern Pentathlon – Natalya Coyle – Women’s Individual, Fencing Bonus Round
09:15 Cycling Track – Emily Kay and Shannon McCurley – Women’s Madison
09:15 Modern Pentathlon – Natalya Coyle – Women’s Individual, Riding Show Jumping
11:00 Equestrian: Team - Bertram Allen and Pacino Amiro (ISH), Darragh Kenny and VDL Cartello, Shane Sweetnam and Alejandro - Show Jumping Team Qualifier
11:30 Modern Pentathlon – Natalya Coyle – Women’s Individual, Laser Run