Rhasidat Adeleke blows off winter cobwebs with cool relay-winning split

Dublin sprinter was racing for the first time since the European Championships last August

Nothing blows off the winter cobwebs faster than your first race of the indoor season, and for Rhasidat Adeleke it also provided ample evidence of faster times to come.

Now midway through her junior year at the University of Texas, Adeleke opened up with the 4x400m relay at the Cardinal Classic meeting, home of the University of Louisville, Kentucky; racing the second leg, she clocked a cool 51.8-second split, Texas taking the win in a facility record of 3:30.55.

Still just 20, it was her first race since the European Championships in Munich last August, where the Dublin sprinter finished fifth in the 400m final, running an Irish record of 50.53 seconds out of lane one, before leading the 4x400m relay team to a final placing, an Irish record on their way there also.

Adeleke’s indoor season all builds towards the NCAA championships on March 10th/11th, the Irish indoor 400m record of 51.58, set by Karen Shinkins 21 years ago, unquestionably a target along the way as she focuses more on that longer event.


The Irish indoor season also moved out of the blocks at the Sport Ireland Arena at Abbotstown, Ruby Millet and Oliver Swinney producing the standout performances at the National Under-23 and Under-20 championships.

The 21-year-old Millet, already the Irish senior indoor and outdoor long jump champion, produced an Under-23 championship record of 6.31m in winning the event here, having already won the 60m hurdles earlier in the day, clocking 8.47 seconds.

In the absence of Ireland’s fastest man Israel Olatunde, who withdrew, up stepped 19-year-old Swinney to underline his status as another exciting sprint prospect.

In his first year in the Under-23 grade, Swinney took the win a new personal best of 6.77 seconds, powering through in the second half of the race to take the win from Bori Akinola of UCD, who won silver in 6.78, with Colin Doyle of Leevale securing bronze in 6.87.

The reigning Irish schoolboy 100m champion, Swinney winning that title for Dominican Portstewart last June, clocking 10.59, he now races with the Speed Development Project Track AC, based out of Coleraine.

Sean McGinley of Finn Valley, part of European Cross-Country Under-20 team silver medal winners last month, won the 1,500m in 3.52.78, Kelly Breen of North East Runners taking the women’s title in 4.41.39.

At Under-20 level Okwu Backari of Leevale AC improved his best to 8.64 seconds to win the 60m hurdles, Joshua Fitzgerald also of Leevale) winning the pole vault with his 4.21m.

Back Stateside, Sophie O’Sullivan clocked two lifetime indoor bests competing for Washington State, a 4:36.67 over the mile, plus a new 800m indoor best of 2:05.87.

Micheál Power, competing for Tulsa University at the Arkansas Invitational Indoor meeting in Fayetteville, became just the second Waterford athlete to run a sub-four minute mile, clocking 3:58.76 when finishing a close runner up to Lexington Hilton of Arkansas, who ran 3.58.70.

His West Waterford team-mate, David McCarthy, was the first Waterford man to run sub-four, 3.55.75 indoors in Boston back in 201.

Elsewhere, after safely avoiding a mass pile-up of runners such was their eagerness to get going at the Valencia 10km road race, Efrem Gidey clocked an impressive 27:57 in 13th place, Weldon Langat of Kenya winning in 26:55.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics