ATHLETICS: Tallaght sprinter is the toast of Texas

by Jonny Stapleton
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Jonny Stapleton

An ‘ecstatic’ Rhasidat Adeleke continued her sprint along the path to Irish sporting greatness in Texas last weekend.

The 20-year-old broke her own Irish 400m record when winning gold at the NCAA Championships in Texas, her home track in the early hours of Sunday morning Irish time.

The first Irish sprinter to ever win an NCAA title’s time of 49.20 also moves her into the top 20 on the World 400m all-time list  

Saturday’s race also marked the Tallaght Athletic Club member’s seventh national record of what is turning out to be a sensational 2023.

Even more impressive Adeleke, a 100m and 200m Under-20 gold medal winner, has become one of the fastest-ever 400m sprinters while finding her feet on the track over the longer distance.

Speaking after her success and helping college take the overall women’s team title for the fifth time in their history, she revealed she hasn’t quite mastered the switch to 400m just yet.

“I started training for the 400 in October and it was definitely a hard process and hard to adjust to. Every practice I was dying and saying ‘I can’t do this. I’m a short sprinter, not a long sprinter’. I’ve got used to it and it got better but it’s still really hard for me.

“My first season as a 400m runner and I’ve just ran 49.20 I have to take it.”

The victory was possibly the most celebrated NCAA Championship victory of all time. The Irish public really got excited by the performance, the win, and particularly the record.

Adeleke points out that was to be expected, although it’s something that still means a lot to her.

“The Irish fan base is one of the strongest athletics fan bases in the world. Twitter goes crazy whenever I break a record or win a race and I appreciate that so much, it really touches my heart to have such a strong community behind me.”

Reflecting on the race itself she added: “The race was kind of a blur, I just went out trusting myself.

“I’m not really sure what I went through the 200 [mark], I just put myself into position coming into the home stretch, and it was the kick at the end, which is something I’ve been doing well all season.”

The Dublin prospect wasn’t favourite going into the race, that tag was handed to American Britton Wilson.

“In the final, anything can happen,” Adeleke commented “I don’t feel like anyone goes into the race as favourites.

“There’s rankings, but at the end of the day, rankings don’t mean anything until you run the race.

“I just focused on myself, anyone could win. It was coming up the home straight, I could feel Brit [Wilson] on my inside, I said ‘I’ve still got more in me, just keep running, just keep running’.

Tallaght AC’s Rhasidat Adeleke celebrates after her stunning performance at the NCAA Championships

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