These are great times for Waterford athletics. Outstanding times, even. Following on from David McCarthy’s (West Waterford AC) bronze in last week’s European Under 23 Championship 5000 metre final, Ferrybank’s Shane Quinn took European silver in Finland on Tuesday.
Running in the 3000 metres final of the European Youth Olympics in Tampere, in temperatures approaching 30 degrees, Shane set the early pace alongside Russia’s Il’gizar Safiulin, with pre-race favourite Callum Hawkins (Great Britain) tucked in behind both.
With 300 metres to go, Hawkins made a decisive move and sprinted clear with Quinn and Safiulin left to fight it out for the silver and bronze.
But Shane, some of Olympian and Irish 3000 metre steeplechase record holder Brendan Quinn, demonstrated his fighting qualities to hold his ground and take silver in a time of eight minutes, 30.12 seconds, seven seconds behind Hawkins and two seconds ahead of Safiulin.
It’s worth noting that Shane, who won All-Ireland cross country titles each year from Under 13 to Under 18, had previously covered the distance in 8.24.
Shane’s excellent showing was anticipated by those in the athletics know as he had put in several excellent runs over 1500 metres leading up to the Championships.
Olympic Council of Ireland President Pat Hickey was on hand to congratulate Shane following his medal success.
Another significant result from an Irish perspective came in the ladies 1500 metres when Ciara Mageen of Portaferry won a magnificent gold in a Championship record time of 4.15.46, smashing the record set by Gabriela Szabo, who denied Sonia O’Sullivan Olympic gold in Sydney.
Irish team Chef d’Equipe and Waterford native John McGrath saluted Ciara’s sensational run. “She is probably the best prospect Ireland has for a medal at the 2016 Olympics,” said McGrath. “She is coming right at just the right time.”