The inaugural International Throws Festival and Coaching Clinic proved to be “a very worthwhile exercise” according to Irish Throws Coordinator David Sweeney. Sweeney said that the competing countries Ireland, Switzerland, Wales and Iceland have developed a very good relationship and all were keen to make this event an annual fixture on the athletics calendar.
Templemore Athletic Club and Athletics Ireland hosted the event at the excellent Tipperary venue. Templemore proved to be a perfect throws location, providing excellent spectator facilities and the international athletes responded to the enthusiastic audience by producing 13 personal bests on the day.
The day’s highlight was without doubt Anita Fitzgibbon smashing the Irish Women’s Javelin record and winning with a 52.97m effort in her first round throw. The previous record of 50.10m which was set by Jenny O’Sullivan had stood since 2004. Fitzgibbon has made great progress this year, adding over 5 metres on to her previous best. Her performance was an excellent 70th birthday present for her mother who was in attendance.
Ireland’s Conor McCullough also produced wins in the hammer and discus. This was the first Irish appearance for the 2010 World Junior Hammer champion who had previously represented USA. Another double win was produced by Clare Fitzgerald in the womens Discus and Shot Put. Sean Breathnach in the Shot Put provided the other Irish win. Both men’s and women’s team events were won by Ireland.
Approximately 80 Irish Athletes and Coaches were very lucky to attend the coaching clinic which followed the competition. Former Irish Olympian and current record holder Terry McHugh explained his philosophy on javelin technique and training exercises. Iceland’s former Olympian Petur Gudmundsson lectured on Rotational Shot Put technique to a very keen audience. Both coaches commented afterwards on how impressed they were with the talent on display and they were confident that Irish throwing has a very good future.