Sarah Healy produced the star performances of European Athletics Under-18s in Gyor, Hungary, breaking two championship records on the way to two dominant performances in the 1,500m and 3,000m.
The Blackrock AC and Holy Child Killiney runner has been a rising star for a while now, winning her first national senior indoor title in February following a European 1,500m gold in 2017.
This week, Healy reigned supreme in the rain to win the 3,000m final on Friday in a championship record of 9.18.05.
With instructions to pick it up with 1km to go by her coach, Eoghan Marnell, Healy duly did speeding a split of 2.57 to cruise to gold.
This was another step up in class to win 3,000m gold here which was a late decision; it proved inspired as she sped to gold. “The competition was harder than last year and I’m really happy to win gold.”
“I thought about it a few weeks ago and said ‘we’ll leave it’. But then the night before we came, we thought again ‘will we?’ The schedule worked out and so we said ‘why not?’ and gave it a go.
“I didn’t know what the pace would be and the first few laps definitely felt fast. I wasn’t sure exactly how I was feeling and whether I would have to wait for a sprint finish. It slowed down as we went along and I got more into it and started feeling better.”
She paid tribute to Marnell’s plan of action: “It was his idea to take it up at 1k. He gives me good race plans and I trust him. I was a little nervous and he said ‘you don’t have to if you don’t want to’ but normally I just do whatever he says because he has the best ideas.”
It was also a new Irish outdoor youth record.
On Saturday, she affirmed her status as the middle distance queen of the championships with a dominant win in the 1,500m final in a new championship record of 4.18.71.
“I decided to go to the front after one lap and stay out of trouble and to speed it up, taking the kick out of the other girls,” she said of her tactics.
She said there were few nerves due to the team spirit abounding in the Irish setup with plenty of other medals.
“Rhasidat [Adeleke] and Sophie [O’Sullivan] kind of spurred me on and got me excited. Today was tough and it was a long time waiting for the race.
“I just tried to relax at the hotel and chat with everyone there, watching some Love Island to take my mind off things. It was pretty relaxed.
“It’s such a great team atmosphere and with everyone performing so well, getting in the medals, it really helps. When I walked out, there was Irish people cheering for me at three different places around the track.”