European U-20 Athletics C’SHIPS
By Dave Donnelly
Rhasidat Adeleke declared Ireland is “on the rise” after she made history with a first-ever double gold medal haul at the European Championships.
The Tallaght sprinter obliterated the competition in the 100m and 200m categories, setting a new Irish record of 22.90s in the latter.”
She surpassed a trail blazed by Dundalk’s Gina Akpeh-Moses, who won Ireland’s first sprint medal at 100m in the same championships back in 2017.
18-year-old Adeleke missed out on a third medal as Ireland fell just short in the 4x400m relay at the championships in Tallinn, but Team Ireland achieved a best-ever return of four gold medals.
Tyrone’s Nicholas Griggs and Longford’s Cian McPhillips also won goal in the 3,000m and 1,500m categories respectively as Ireland finished joint-second in the medal rankings, just behind the UK.
“I’m just so happy,” Adeleke commented she left the rest of the field firmly in her wake in the 200m final.
“After five rounds, to PR (personal record) as well. What else can I ask for? I’ve done exactly what I planned to do. I thank God, thank my family, thank my coach.
“When I decided to do the double I was like, ‘OK, if I’m doing the double I have to win both’. I just feel like that’s really important to me.
“To actually be able to achieve it and complete it is such a huge relief and such a weight lifted off my shoulders.
“To be able to do such a thing is great, it’s really hard to do, six rounds and pretty much all at full speed.”
Adeleke admitted it has been ‘mentally tough’ to train and compete in Estonia without her trainer, but her determination to continue improving took her through.
“I was only meant to do one event coming here because it’s been such a long season over in the NCAA.
“I’m just so happy to be able to come here and perform and do myself and country proud. I’m delighted. I just try my best to represent all the time.
The strength of Irish athletics at the moment is best exemplified by the fact Tallaght Athletics Club’s Adeleke was omitted from the 4×400 relay team at the Olympics in Tokyo this month.
University of Texas sophomore Adeleke is regarded as one of the fastest sprinters in Ireland – Phil Healy holds the 100m record – but chose not to compete in relays during the year.
The Olympic Council opted to reward those sprinters who had competed in relays during the year for the selection of the Tokyo-bound team.
Standing over six feet tall, the former Presentation College Terenure sprinter’s future is likely to lie in the 200m and 400m events rather than 100m, and she’s set the Paris Olympics as her target.
“We’ve been coming up in the sprints. There’s going to be a lot of sprinters to watch out for in the next coming years. Paris 2024, you know we’re on the rise so just watch out!”
Captions: Proud as punch: Rhasidat Adeleke with her brother Abdullahi (second left) and mother Adewumi (right), and her Women’s 100m and 200m gold medals alongside 4×100 metre relay team member Israel Olatunde and his mother Elizabeth at Dublin Airport after they returned home from the European U20 Championships. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Pride of Dublin: Tallaght’s Rhasidat Adeleke reacts after winning two gold medals at the European U-20 Championships