27 March 2019
Ireland continued to punch well above its weight on the fourth day of the World Masters’ Indoor Championships in Torún, Poland. Incongruously the meeting also includes cross country and road events as well as throwing contests such as javelin and hammer not usually associated with indoor athletics.
Highlight of Wednesday’s competition was a rare Irish one-two in the men’s M55 10K road race with Mick Byrne and Paul Cowhie showing a clean pair of heels to a strong international field. Byrne’s winning time of 34:07 was a national age group record. Ireland also picked up team gold with third scorer Mick Feery also handily placed in 16th.
Sligo man John McDermott was the best of the 400m runners striding to an gold medal in the M75 age group clocking impressive 67.28 seconds in the process. There were silver medals for both Seznana Bechtina and Annette Quaid in the W35 and W40 age groups with both running personal bests of 58.14 and 58.90 seconds respectively.
Ireland’s harrier tradition paid dividends in the cross country where the green singlets claimed a bagful of medals. Pride of place went to Dubliner Annette Kealy who was a winner of the W50 title coming home just two seconds clear of her nearest rival Susan McDonald from Great Britain. That helped the Irish woman to team bronze in the age group.
Pauline Moran went close to a second individual win when she took runner-up spot in the W60 race, ending up 23 seconds in arrears of Spain’s Teresa Rufaza at the finish line. Jackie Post added a second individual silver in the W45 age category and Donegal woman Kay Byrne finished fifth in the W55 race, just 21 seconds from an individual medal, leading the Irish to team bronze.
There were more medals in men’s races with Wicklow man Tommy Payne running a well-judged race to take runner-up spot in the M60 race. Former Olympian Shane Healy threatened to run away with the M50 event.
The former 3:35 1500m went into what appeared to be an unassailable lead after two laps but the eight kilometre distance proved to be a marathon rather than a sprint for the Metro athlete.
There were obvious signs of the wheels coming off on the third lap before he was caught and passed on the final circuit by Germany’s Miguel Molero who went on to win quite comfortably. Healy dug in on the final lap to salvage the individual bronze and help lay the foundations for team silver.
Derry Track Club’s Cathal McLaughlin had cruel luck after finishing 12th and second Irish scorer. He had omitted to attach a timing chip to his shoe and appeared in the results as a DNS. As Ireland were still third despite his absence from the listings, no appeal for re-instatement was made by the team management.
The M55 team went one better but only after two amazing strokes of luck. Initially placed third, the trio which included Castlederg runner Mark Connolly, was elevated to the gold medal positions when a competitor from both apparent winners Great Britain and second-placed Poland had competitors who were disqualified for not wearing numbers on their backs.
Earlier there medals for Kealy and Payne in the 3000m where Drogheda runners Mary Leech (W40) and Mark O’Shea (M45) both achieved podium places.
At the time of writing Ireland sit a proud 12th in the medal table of the 53 countries who have achieved a podium place.