Gidey stars in stunning Irish performances

by Stephen Findlater
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Euro Cross Country Championships

EFREM Gidey played a starring role as the Irish cross country teams went medal crazy with two individual and two team awards from the European Championships in Bela Vista Park in Lisbon last Sunday.

The Clonliffe Harriers man got the haul underway with a fine individual bronze in the men’s Under-20 6,225m race that was won for the fourth time by Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen.

Gidey was passed for silver by Turkey’s Ayetullah Aslanhan on the last lap but, nonetheless, was ecstatic with how his first run in an Irish singlet panned out.

“Wow, I’m happy, so happy. I don’t believe it,” Gidey said after his race. “The first half of that race for me was so fast, I was so tired, but the second half I felt strong, for the last lap.

“I was thinking of top 10. Third, that’s amazing, the European championships are so big. And to wear the Irish vest, makes me so happy, and so proud for Ireland. And so happy for my coach Joe Cooper.”

Born in Eritrea, he arrived in Ireland two years ago via a number of refugee camps, but eventually settled in Le Cheile Secondary School in Tyrrelstown and found a home at Clonliffe.

In addition to Cooper, club President Paddy Marley, club coaches and other athletes from the club were on hand to welcome home their hero at Dublin Airport. The club also welcomed home Cathal Doyle, who competed in the Under-23 race.

Gidey’s run came incredibly close to helping win a team medal but, unfortunately, the team ended fourth on countback.

Stephanie Cotter (West Muskerry) also took bronze in the Under-23 women’s race, while two team silver medals were won by the U23 women and the senior women.

Dublin City Harriers’ Fian Sweeney played her part in the women’s team silver, fourth home for the Irish team in 38th overall.

Her club mate, Jodie McCann was Ireland’s best finished – in 46th – in the women’s Under-20 race with DSDAC’s Eimear Maher in 85th.

In the men’s Under-23 team, Raheny Shamrock’s Brian Fay impressed in a 22nd place finish with Doyle in 71st. The mixed relay team were seventh with Dublin City Harriers’ Nadia Power, Donore Harriers’ John Travers and Clonliffe’s Eoin Pierce in the line-up.

Speaking at the homecoming in Dublin Airport on Monday, Athletics Ireland President, Georgina Drumm said: “ We are so proud of the performances of all of our athletes at this years European Cross Country Championships in Lisbon.

“We must congratulate to all of our medal winners, but we must also thank the coaches, managers and support staff who helped to make these championships so successful for Irish athletics”.

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