Atheltics: European Indoor Championships, Istanbul

by Aaron Dunne
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Israel Olatunde (UCD AC) signed off his European Athletics Indoor Championships at the semi-final stage this afternoon, clocking 6.69 for 7th place in the 60m which was not enough to see him progress to the final.

The 20-year-old faced a stiff task to qualify from lane 8 in a stacked race which was won by Italy’s Samuele Ceccarelli in a blistering 6.47.

Speaking after the race Olatunde said: “You can’t make excuses. You just go out and race and try to give your best performance so I’m proud of myself. I’m still young and I’ll take plenty of learnings from these championships. I’m proud to represent Ireland and of all the support I get at home so I don’t get too high during the highs, or too low during the lows”.

The UCD sprint star has enjoyed a record-breaking indoor season and will now turn attention to his 100m outdoor season with both the European U23 Championships and World Championships on the horizon.

4 March 2023; Israel Olatunde of Ireland, with RTÉ’s David Gillick after finishing seventh in the men’s 60m semi-final during Day 2 of the European Indoor Athletics Championships at Ataköy Athletics Arena in Istanbul, Türkiye. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

 Israel Olatunde’s European Indoor Championships came to an abrupt end in the semi-finals of the men’s 60m in Istanbul tonight, the 20-year-old Dundalk sprinter finishing seventh in 6.69 seconds. Afterwards, the Irish 60m and 100m record holder noted that travel issues had played a part in his sub-par performance.

“I didn’t have the greatest preparations, I arrived 12 hours before my heat but in a championship there’s no excuses,” he said. “I come to every championship to compete, to do your best and I need to just improve on my mistakes for outdoors.”

Olatunde got off to a flying start but was left trailing from halfway, fading through the pack as Italy’s Samuele Ceccarelli took victory in a blazing 6.47, with Olatunde well off his recent Irish record of 6.57.

4 March 2023; Israel Olatunde of Ireland before competing in the men’s 60m semi-final during Day 2 of the European Indoor Athletics Championships at Ataköy Athletics Arena in Istanbul, Türkiye. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

“I felt like I got out well, but the rest of the race just wasn’t there and I have to look back on it and see where it fell apart,” he said. “It’s such fine margins and the smallest things can impact it a lot.  I was having a rough time in the build-up to nationals and nationals turned it around and then today, the time just wasn’t there.”

Earlier in the day Olatunde had finished fourth in his heat, clocking 6.68 to advance.

“We wanted to give a good performance, get through the heats – I did that and I’m proud,” he said. “It wasn’t the performance I wanted in the semi-final but these things happen.”

Meanwhile, UCD’s Sophie Becker (inset) was part of the Ireland 4x400m relay team that finished fifth in their final.

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