FINGAL County Council’s Sports Office hosted an “unprecedented” 1,600 students from 55 schools from around the region on Tuesday in the biggest athletics event run by a local office.
The Fingal Athletics League Finals day brought third to sixth class boys and girls – who had been initially competing in groups in Swords and Blanchardstown – to the Morton Stadium to contest races ranging from 350m to 650m.
Every participant received a medal for participating while they also got a chance to try out the javelin, shot put, hurdles and sprint sections on the fun field after completing their race.
Speaking about the turnout, Niall McGuirk, Senior Sports Development Officer, Fingal County Council said it was an incredible event and has grown beyond all recognition since it was first introduced eight years ago with eight schools taking part.
“That was an unbelievable, unprecedented turnout. Last year, we had 40 schools; 55 is incredible” he told GazetteSport. “The logistics are tough but the support we had from clubs and, of course, Athletics Ireland,was huge. There were volunteers from Fingal Volunteers Centre, numerous clubs from around Fingal, a team of over 40 helping out.
“It was a massive undertaking. No other county council in Dublin has run an event like that for kids like we did today. Of course, the sun was shining so that really helped!”
The event was run in partnership with Athletics Ireland and is supported by a number of Fingal’s Athletics Clubs with Balbriggan AC, Lusk AC, Fingallians AC, Clonliffe Harriers AC and Portmarnock AC all contributing to this fantastic event.
“This programme was aimed at creating a fun environment for children to become physically active and to give children of all abilities an opportunity to take part in athletics.
“Obviously, due to the numbers attending, schools are happy with the league and it wouldn’t be such a success without the commitment shown by the teachers and principals who are all helping to develop a strong sporting ethos in their respective schools.
“That represents 50% of the schools in Fingal. It’s not winner takes all, first past the post. Some of those kids may never be athletes or going to an Olympics.
“But they have got to run in an international athletics stadium, the same one Derval O’Rourke will do the 100m hurdles in, and got a medal in their pocket so I think it was a great day.”