Two Irish National U23 records fell on what was a busy Saturday for Irish athletes at the IFAM Meeting in Oordegem, Belgium.
Robert McDonnell (Galway City Harriers AC) was the first to see a record fall. The young athlete who turns 20 tomorrow got an early birthday present when he clocked a sensational time of 20.51s (+1.3) to take a comfortable victory in the Men’s 200m. McDonnell, who was part of the Irish Mixed 4x400m relay squad at the Tokyo Olympics last year is in phenomenal shape having earlier in the day equalled his 100m PB of 10.43s. The Irish record had stood for ten years and was previously held by Steven Colvert who ran 20.57s. The time moves the NUIG student to fourth on the Irish Senior All-Time list. It is also under the B standard for the European Championships in Munich later this summer.
It was after 10.30pm local time in Belgium when Darragh McElhinney toed the line for his 5,000m race. The UCD AC athlete from Glengarriff in Cork had been one of the brightest talents in Irish athletics for several years and has progressed nicely now in the senior ranks. His silver medal performance in the U23 race at the European Cross Country Championships captivated spectators who roared him all the way. He is now a household name and elevated his status further when he ran 13.17.17 under the lights on Saturday night to break John Treacy’s forty-four-year-old National U23 record. Treacy’s had ran 13.26.5 in Belgium in 1978. McElhinney’s run moves him to seventh on the Irish Senior All-Time list just marginally behind Treacy now. Alistair Craig holds the record with 13.03.53.
McElhinney’s time also qualifies him automatically for the European Championships in August, as he comfortably ran under the standard of 13.24. It continues what has been an impressive start to the season for the 21-year-old who ran an Outdoor PB over 1500m of 3.39.39 in Karlsruhe, Germany one week prior. Under the guidance of Emmett Dunleavy, things are certainly looking promising for McElhinney.
Hiko Tonosa (Dundrum South Dublin AC) also ran an excellent PB of 13.26.02 in the race, moving him to 15th on the Irish All-Time list. Tonosa already holds the European standard for the 10,000m having ran 27.53.10 recently in California.
There were several more impressive performances from the Irish contingent in Belgium. Conor Gleeson has covered them in a report along with a more detailed look at McDonnell's and McElhinney's races here: https://www.irishrunner.ie/races-places/long-standing-irish-u23-records-broken-in-belgium-828