PBS FALL AND TOP CLASS PERFORMANCES

Another busy day for Team Ireland athletes at the European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) in Banska Bystrica, saw fifteen athletes compete across four sports, with 800m runner Nicole Dinan coming close to a medal, finishing in fourth, while Sam Coleman finished tenth in the sprint finish of the Boy’s Road Race, ensuring the cycling team go home with four top ten results.  

Athletics

It was a full day of competition for the athletics athletes at the Sport Park Athletics today in Banska Bystrica. Nicole Dinan had a stand-out performance in the Girl’s 800m Final, where she pushed for a medal, finishing fourth on the line. Serbia’s Masa Rajic won the race in a time of 2:11.95 ahead of Italy and Poland, with Dinan fourth with 2:12.92. Pleased with her performance, Dinan said,

“I was slightly more nervous for the final than I was for the semi-final. I went out didn’t expect to take the lead at all, but it happened that way, I went at my own pace. Up the back straight they were pushing it on, I was hanging in there and I was dying in the home straight. I delighted to get fourth, pity I missed out on a medal.”

Acknowledging the pedigree of Irish female runners over this distance, in particular Louise Shanahan who previously won the 800m event at EYOF, Dinan said,

“We were only watching Louise Shanahan’s 800m the other day in the room, and she won this EYOF, and the way she won it was an inspiration and I thought, maybe that will be me some day! It’s great to see all her performances, it pushes you on in training, and it shows you that there’s someone there to show you that yes, it is possible.”

This morning saw Toby Thompson qualify through to the finals in the Boy’s 200m with a time of 22.26, and is excited to see what he can do in tomorrow’s final,

“I didn’t get the best of starts, that meant I had to keep the pace up at full speed for the second 50 of the event. Then I had nothing in the tank for the home straight. But if I run a better race in the final, I would like to think I’m in contention for a medal.”

A personal best time of 14.11 seconds was not enough for Okwu Backari to progress to the semi-finals of the Girl’s 100m hurdles,

“There was a false start and I think that kind of put everyone off a bit. A false start and I still ran a PB, especially in front of all these people, so that’s really good.”

Hannah Falvey, who had qualified for the semi-finals of the Girl’s 200m, fell short of moving to the finals, finishing with a time of 26.11, and now switches her focus to the relay events tomorrow.

“It’s been great here, I got to the semi-finals. I thought I would run a bit better, but it just wasn’t my day I guess. I’m still very happy, and it’s the relays next, so I’ll switch my focus to that.”

Maeve Fleming missed out on qualifying for the finals in the High Jump, scoring 1.65m, shy of her own personal best of 1.73m. Speaking afterwards she commented on the support from the crowd,

“It was great seeing the Team Ireland flags and all the supporters in green, it was great. My family and coach were there too which was great.”

Hollie Kilroe finished 8th in the Girl’s 400m Final with a time of 57.54,

“There was a lot of excitement going into it, it wasn’t the race I was expecting. But I got to a final, and not a lot of people can say that.”

Badminton

Michelle Shochan and Dylan Noble teamed up together in the Mixed Doubles today, taking a 2-0 win in their first match against Armenia’s Manvel Harutyunyan and Lusine Smbatyan. The Irish pairing dominated both sets in the first match with a 21-18, 21-19 win, moving them into the next round.

In the Round of 32 they faced Norway’s Aleksandrs Jakovlevs & Katja Ellingsen, and had a better match, but the Norwegian’s got the better of them at the end of two tough sets, winning 2-0, with 24-22, 21-18

Speaking after the competition, team leader and three time Olympian Chloe Magee was impressed with their performances,

“It’s been a very different experience here for me. I’m used to coming here to these European Games as an athlete, and I am now here as a coach, and trying to guide these young guys in the right direction. It’s been a really good week, Michelle played very well in the singles, and she’s very young, she has another year in this. Dylan, it was a very hard experience for him, and he learnt a lot from the singles and he came out today and played a good mix. It’s always tough when your partner is doing well and you’ve to spend a few days practising. But fair play to him, he came out with a really good attitude and I was happy that they could progress in the mixed.”

Magee reflected on her own transition from athlete to team leader at the EYOF, expressing gratitude for the support that she receives from Badminton Ireland, and CEO David McGill.

“I can’t thank Badminton Ireland enough, they’ve given me every opportunity to try and progress as easy as possible, from an athlete to the next stage. Even being here at this European Youth Olympic Festival, it’s good for me to come back, give back and help them and guide them. To give them a bit of my experience on how to be international athletes and to try and just show their class. I’m learning a lot and they’re learning a lot so it’s good experience for both.”

Cycling

Another top ten finish for Sam Coleman in the Boy’s Road Race rounded off an excellent week of racing for the Irish cyclists, coming away from the EYOF with four top ten finishes.

In the 57.8km Girl’s Road Race Aine Doherty was the highest Irish finisher in 25th place, with Aliyah Rafferty and Mya Doocey 41st and 69th respectively. With one significant climb on the circuit, and the finish line in the centre of the town, it was recipe for good racing. The race was neutralised up the climb for the first few kilometres, and on the next time around the Dutch drove hard leaving a gap to the rest of the peloton, with the Irish just missing out on this select group.   

Team Ireland coach Jamie Blanchfield was impressed with the performances of all the riders, saying,

“They all raced fantastically. With Aine she was one stone away from being in the first group coming into the finish – the leaders took the foot off the gas, so her group managed to reel back the gap coming to the line. All three of them are first year juniors in this event, so to have this kind of performance at a race like this is really promising, and you can’t buy that kind of experience. Mya was unfortunate to get caught up in a crash when she was in the main group, but she did well to finish too.”

In the 65.8 km Boy’s Road Race Sam Coleman finished tenth in the sprint for gold, in a race that was won by Belgium, with Poland rounding off the podium with silver and bronze. The Orchard CC cyclist was in the lead group for much of the race with his clubmate Seth Dunwoody, who raced strong throughout, but couldn’t get away. Dunwoody was caught up in a crash 800m from the finish, so placed 27th. Patrick Casey, who rides for Anexo Group Race Team was in the next group back in 33rd place. Blanchfield highlighted the mature and composed racing of the team saying,

“The guys followed the plan. On the first gap everyone was eager to push on the race, but they stayed back and saved themselves. Patrick was unlucky to get caught in a crash that he got back on to get back into the bunch. Seth was second or third wheel going up the climb and in a strong group which fractured away, but it came together on the descent. Sam did really well to finish in the sprint for gold, finishing tenth. This caps off a really great week for the boys, with each of them coming away with a top ten. Four top tens for the team.”

Swimming

It was a busy morning for Waterford’s Conor Fitzgerald who competed in the Boy’s 50m Free and Boy’s 100m Butterfly in the space of an hour, narrowly missing out on progressing out of both heats. In the Boy’s 50m Free Fitzgerald finished 30th in a time of 24.69. The Splashwood Sharks SC swimmer then clocked 58.23 seconds in the Boy’s 100m Butterfly.

Tomorrow’s schedule for Team Ireland will feature only track and field athletes, with the remaining sports finished for the event.

RESULTS – TUESDAY 26 JULY 2022

Athletics

Toby Thompson – Boy’s 200m Heats – 22.26 Q for Finals

Okwu Backari – Girl’s 100m Hurdles – 14.11 PB

Hannah Falvey – Girl’s 200m Semis – 26.11

Maeve Fleming – Girl’s High Jump – 1.65m – doesn’t qualify

Nicole Dinan – Girl’s 800m Finals – 4th with 2:12.92

Hollie Kilroe – Girl’s 400m Finals – 8th with 57.54

Badminton                                                                       

Ireland (Shochan & Noble) 2-0 Armenia (Harutyunyan & Smbatyan) 21-18, 21-19.

Ireland (Shochan & Noble) 2-0 Norway (Aleksandrs Jakovlevs & Katja Ellingsen) 22-24, 18-21

Cycling

Girl’s Road Race:

Gold – Cat Ferguson (GB)

Silver – Paula Jessica Ostiz Taco (Spain)

Bronze – Beatrice Temperoni (Italy)

25th – Aine Doherty (Ireland)

41st – Aliyah Rafferty (Ireland)

69th – Mya Doocey (Ireland)

Boy’s Road Race:

Gold – Cedric Keppens (Belgium)

Silver – Patryk Goszczurny (Poland)

Bronze – Michal Strzelecki (Poland

10th – Sam Coleman (IRL)

27th – Seth Dunwoody (IRL)

33rd – Patrick Casey (IRL)

Swimming

Conor Fitzgerald – Boy’s 50m Freestyle – 30th with 24.69

Conor Fitzgerald – Boy’s 100m Butterfly – 21st with 58.23

SCHEDULE – THURSDAY 28 JULY 2022

10:05 Athletics – Girl’s Medley Relay (Backari, Falvey, Kierans, Kilroe, Dinan)

10:35 Athletics – Boy’s Medley Relay (Crotty, O’Reilly, Osas, Thompson)

10:42 Athletics – Boy’s Discus (Cian Crampton)

11:00 Athletics – Boy’s 3000m Final – Cormac Dixon

19:35 Athletics – Boy’s 200m Final – Toby Thompson

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