Last weekend at the European Indoor Championship in Turin, Italy, the Irish team performed magnificently and Kelly Proper of Ferrybank AC, competing in her first major senior championship, not alone reached the Long Jump final but in the qualifying round smashed her own Irish record in the process.

In that qualifying round on Friday she finished fifth of the eight competitors to go through to Saturday’s final, with a top-class leap of 6.59m easily beating her old indoor mark of 6.44m, as well as her own national outdoor record of 6.51m.

Kelly eventually finished seventh in the final on Saturday with a best jump of 6.37m, and must have been delighted to do so well against many seasoned campaigners from all over Europe. Her obvious glee at setting the record on Friday and reaching the final would naturally have affected her, but this in itself is an experience that will be of immense value to her in her future career.

Kelly’s leap of 6.59m now puts her within striking distance of qualifying marks for major competitions, and she must have a very realistic chance of making the grade for the World senior outdoors later this year – 6.72 being the A standard and 6.62m the B. She will of course be competing in the European U23 Championship in July.

Also in Turin, Niamh Whelan, Ferrybank (still a junior), failed to progress in the 60 metres but in her heat equalled her best-ever time of 7.49 seconds. This again has to be commended as to achieve a PB in the heat of such a major competition shows that Niamh has what it takes to develop into a fine senior athlete, and she too has her big event, the European Juniors, coming up in July.