Sarah Lavin completes rarest of sprint doubles to delight the Morton Stadium

Sarah Healy also inflicts some gentle revenge on Sophie O’Sullivan to land the 1,500m title

A tale of two Sarahs – for one, an exceptionally rare sprint double which further satisfied her superstitions, for the other another middle-distance title wrapped up in some gentle revenge.

With that Saran Lavin and Sarah Healy provided the headline acts at the 151st edition of the National Track and Field Championships, the Morton Stadium feeling wintry at times yet repeatedly warming to an array of other standout performances.

For a decade now Lavin has been chasing the achievements of Derval O’Rourke, and on Sunday got to surpass at least one of them. Having won her 13th national sprint hurdles title on Saturday, Lavin won a first 100m flat on Sunday, her time of 11.53 seconds another lifetime best to boot. O’Rourke couldn’t quite pull off that double in her prime, winning the hurdles, then runner-up in the 100m in 2005, running 11.54.

Lavin has also spoken about trying to break the Irish 100m hurdles record which has belonged to O’Rourke for the last 13 years (they were also born 13 years apart, incidentally). Her time on Saturday was 13:13.


“The wind was nasty again, has been this whole weekend, but I think compared to yesterday it felt only minor,” said the Limerick athlete. “Speed like this is really important, because firstly hurdles is a sprint race, you need that speed. So three bests in one day is so great, and will obviously only helpful for the hurdles.”

Not long after that Healy, aged 22, lined up for the women’s 1,500m final (Ciara Mageean withdrawing last week), acutely aware the woman to beat now was Sophie O’Sullivan, still only 21, who out-kicked her to win the European under-23 title in Espoo, Finland, a fortnight ago.

For the opening three laps, having broken well clear of the rest, they couldn’t take an eye off each other, and neither could we, before Healy made her decisive break down the backstretch, this time holding off O’Sullivan to win in 4:11.39 to 4:12.00

“I was feeling quite good coming into the last lap, responded to Sophie when she made her move, so really happy to have held on,” said Healy. “But I’d say it probably didn’t go according to plan, I’d say my coaches are like ‘what are you doing’.”

Cathal Doyle from host club Clonliffe once again displayed cool tactics to defend his 1,500m title, out-kicking Tyrone teenager Nick Griggs, who hit the front after 800m; Doyle won in 3:40.11.

It has, in his own words, been an “interesting” season for Israel Olatunde, not quite hitting the speedometer levels of last summer. Still the UCD student was duly elated after winning a third successive 100m title in 10.49 seconds, holding off his UCD team-mate Bori Akinola (10.58). “Yeah, it’s been an interesting season, I’ve learnt so much, and to come here and pick up a third national title means so much,” said Olatunde.

For Thomas Barr, championship title number 11 in the 400m hurdles was won as smoothly as ever, the Waterford athlete running 49.83, while Chris O’Donnell from north Sligo won his fifth 400m flat in six years in 45.97, his fastest winning time, ahead of teenager Callum Baird from Ballymena (46.88), Brian Gregan turning back the clock to snatch bronze in 46.96, his first championships since 2017.

Other standout field performances on Sunday saw Elizabeth Ndudi from Dundrum South-Dublin win the long jump with a best of 6.0m, the teenager off to next week’s European Under-20 Championships, while Michael Bowler from Enniscorthy won a competitive pole vault with a best of 4.60m

Andrew Coscoran moved down to 800m looking to tune his speed ahead of next month’s World Championships in Budapest, although in the day no one could match the finishing speed of John Fitzsimons, the Kildare athlete winning in 1:47.15.

Rhasidat Adeleke, a late withdrawal from the 200m on medical advice, was present on Saturday and spent several hours meeting her fast-growing support of all ages.

Eric Favors from Raheny improved the championship best shot put mark to an excellent 19.91m with his last effort, improving the 19.25m set last year by James Kelly, while Saragh Buggy from St Abbans AC also extended her remarkable winning streak in the jumps, landing another national triple jump title with a best 13.03m.

Brian Fay, who recently improved the Irish 5,00m record, bided his time before kicking, the Raheny athlete winning in 13:39.20 ahead of Cormac Dalton of Mullingar Harriers, second in 13:44.43.

Nicola Tuthill, who recently finished fourth in the European Under-23 Championships, won another hammer title with a best of 67.67m, Sean Mockler from Moycarkey Coolcroo taking the men’s crown with his best of 64.49.

Sommer Lecky won another women’s high jump title for Finn Valley, clearing 1.80m; Michelle Finn from Leevale also defending her 3,000m steeplechase title, in 10:10.14.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

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