JUVENILES RETURN FOR MORE NATIONAL INDOOR ACTION
It will be a busy weekend of athletics action with Day 1 and Day 2 of the Irish Life Health National Juvenile Indoor Championships set for the TUS International Arena in Athlone (March 19th/20th).
The championships return after a two-year absence and there will be no shortage of talent on show as the future Irish athletics stars take to national competition.
The action on day 1 (March 19th) gets up and running with the 1500 and 400m events.
Willowfield Harriers look to have a strong representation across the middle-distance events, and Lucy Foster (Willowfield Harriers) and Kirsty Charlotte Foster (Willowfield Harriers) are sure to go well in their respective U17 and U18 categories. Kirsty Charlotte Foster (Willowfield Harriers) comes here as the 2021 national outdoor champion over 1500m (U17) and is expected to double up in the 800m.
Ruby Stueven (Tullamore Harriers) is one to look out for in the U19 division of the 1500m following her great performance at last weekend’s junior indoor championships.
The 400m races look ultra-competitive, and the U19s could provide one of the races of the weekend with both Kate O’Connell (Lucan Harriers) and Lucy McGlynn (Tír Chonaill AC) both in sparkling form in recent weeks.
The walks take centre stage from 11.45am on Saturday and Jake O’Brien (Moyvalley AC) looks to be one of the standout names among the entries.
There’ll be no shortage of quality in the field events too, with Katie O’Regan (Riverstick/Kinsale AC) and Max O’Reilly sure to be right in contention for national honours in their respective Long Jump competitions.
The Pole Vault has provided some of the standout performances of the 2022 indoor season, and Conor Callinan of Leevale returns to action (U19) following his championship record (4.65m) last weekend. Callinan set an U20 Pole Vault Irish Record (indoor) of 4.75 back in January, before becoming joint 2022 national senior indoor champion in February.
Callinan’s clubmate, Una Brice (Leevale) has also been record-breaking form of late, posting a championship record of 3.60m 5 days ago and is one not to be missed when the women’s Pole Vault gets underway on Sunday afternoon.
Dannan Long (Enniscorthy AC) and Ava Rochford (Nenagh Olympic AC) have been ultra-consistent this season, and both athletes will be right in contention for U18 honours in their respective High Jump competitions.
The sprinters will round off day 1 in Athlone, with many of the 60m races looking tough to call on paper. Lucy May Sleeman (Leevale AC) posted a big PB of 7.41 last weekend to take the national Junior title and is sure to be one of the stars of this weekend, also holding entries in the 200m and 60m hurdles.
Nkemjika Onwumereh (Metro St Brigid’s AC) stormed to a national junior 60m success in 6.85 last weekend and looks the one to beat in the U19 division. Onwumereh also holds an entry in the 200m which will kick of the action on day 2.
Fatima Amusa (Leevale AC) is sure to be another targeting those podium places when the 200m finals come around on Sunday, having looked strong when running as part of Leevale 4 x 200 team who clocked a Junior National Club Record and Championship Record last weekend.
The middle distance events are sure to continue to provide plenty of thrills across the schedule, no more so than the clash of twins Freya & Holly Renton (Westport AC) in the U13 600m. The sisters provided one of the highlights of the cross country season with their stride-for-stride finish in Santry last year.
Emily Bolton (Donore Harriers), Emer McKee (Willowfield Harriers), Niamh Garvey (Tullamore Harriers), and Isa McCarron (Lagan Valley) were in sparkling form at the All Ireland Schools Cross country last weekend and all go again in the U15 800m.
European U20 athlete Maeve O’Neill (Doheny AC) could clash with Emma Moore (Galway City Harriers) in the U19 800m, with both athletes also holding entries in the 400m.
Katie Nolke (Ferrybank) had a brilliant 2021 season, and the Ferrybank star is bank in action in the U19 Long Jump this weekend. Nolke will also go in the 60m hurdles.
Day 3 of the championships will focus on the 4 x 200m relays and the remaining field events. The relay teams will undoubtedly have been inspired by their international heroes Aoife Lynch, Kate Doherty, Sarah Quinn and Sophie Becker who secured a stunning 4 x 200m second-place finish at the World Relays in Poland last year.
Away from the track, Liam Shaw (Athenry AC) will be targeting a top of the podium finish in the U18 Shot Put, while Fitzgerald pair of Grace (U19) and Lucy (U16) (Tipperary Town AC) are two to keep a close eye on in the Triple Jump competitions.
It promises to be an action-packed weekend, and it can be viewed in full at the TUS Arena or via the Athletics Ireland YouTube Channel.
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