16 year old Ruari Finnegan from St. Eunan’s Letterkenny confirmed his reputation as one of the hottest prospects in Irish athletics by effectively ‘destroying’ a high class field at today’s European Youth Olympics in Trabzon, Turkey and taking gold for Ireland in the boys 1,500 metres.
Leading from the start, he showed great power and pace, crushing his opponents in a masterful display and winning by a margin of over ten metres from the Italian runner up, in a time of 3.53.78.
“I had a plan for each lap and kept to it. I stretched out at the bell and went for gold, nothing else was on my mind”, he said. “I’m thrilled to win Ireland’s first gold medal at these amazing Games”
Ten minutes earlier, Siofra Clerigh Buttner ran the race of her life to take silver in the girls 1,500 metres. The young Colaiste Iosagain, Stillorgan star battled stride for stride with the favourite, Britain’s Sophie Riches and was narrowly beaten for gold, recording a time of 4.26.42, a personal best by over two seconds.
“I’m happy with my silver medal in a week where I celebrated my 16th birthday here in Turkey. I did my very best and was always in the hunt until the last few yards. I know that there will be other days and opportunities to improve my performance”, she said.
200 metres sprinter Marcus Lawler (CBS Carlow) looks good for a medal spot tomorrow winning his heat with ease. Also into finals are the Waterford twins Ben and Megan Kiely (400m hurdles) and Ciara Giles Doran (Ferrybank AC) – semi final 200 metres.
Tom Rafter, the Irish Chef de Mission, said that the exploits of Ruari and Siofra had given the Irish squad a great boost and that more medals were on the horizon for the young Irish track stars.
Almost 4,000 athletes from 49 countries are competing at the Games, an event widely regarded as a stepping stone to the senior Olympic Games. Ireland is represented with a squad of over 50 athletes in five sports.
Further information and athlete interviews – call Bernie Alcorn at 087 127 5936 – she’s in Turkey.