Nick Griggs poised for another golden run in Jerusalem

The 18 year-old from Tyrone is the defending champion in the 3,000m

No one is saying it’s going to be easy, distance finals especially. Still Nick Griggs looks poised to secure Ireland’s first medal on day three of the European Under-20 Championships, taking place inside the Givat Ram Stadium in Jerusalem.

Griggs is favourite for gold by virtue of the fact he’s already won this 3,000m title, in Tallinn two years ago, then aged only 16, the athlete from Newmills in east Tyrone improving with often startling progress ever since.

After setting Irish Under-20 records in four events this year – 1,500m (3:36.09), mile (3:55.73), 3,000m (7:53.24) and 5,000m (13:36.47) – Griggs is the fastest among the 16-man final, Johnathan Grahn from Sweden the closest with his 7:54.66, with only one other finalist breaking eight minutes.

Beginning with John Treacy’s silver in the 5,000m back in 1975, Irish athletes have won 16 medals in all, including a sprint double for Rhasidat Adeleke two years ago, but no Irish athlete has ever won medals across two different championships at Under-20 level.


Wednesday’s final (5.35pm Irish time) should also present cooler conditions than Griggs endured in qualifying on Monday morning, easing home second in 8:32.22, right alongside Andreas Fjeld Halvorson from Norway (8:32.20). In preparation he’s admitted to “putting on a coat, tights, a half-zip and then going into the sauna for half an hour” in recent weeks.

All indications are once he starts burning up the track on the last lap no one will likely stay close for long; especially after rising Dutch star Niels Laros has decided to focus on other events, aiming for a 1,500m/5,000m double.

Ava Rochford also goes in the women’s high jump final (5.15pm) before Oisín Joyce takes to the men’s javelin final (5.50pm), while earlier on Tuesday, Victoria Amiadamen (59.77) and Fintan Dewhirst (51.49) produced two excellent hurdling performances, both athletes picking up lifetime bests on their way to progressing to their 400m hurdles semi-finals.

Cork sprinter Lucy-May Sleeman had already run a lifetime best of 11.54 to make the final of the 100m, were she finished eighth in 11.81, Joy Eze (11.39) and Renee Regis (11.40) securing a one-two for Great Britain.

Maeve O’Neill of Doheny AC in west Cork also nailed her place in the 800m final, set for Thursday, after a bold kick for the line over the last 50 metres, coming past three runners to place third in 2.07.50, enough to progress as the second fastest non-automatic qualifier.

Adam Nolan finished eighth in his 110m hurdles semi-final, clocking 13.77, Neil Culhane also eighth in his 800m semi-final, clocking 1:54.49.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

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