On Saturday last at the inaugural World Youth Olympic Games in Singapore there was yet another outstanding performance by 16-year-old Kate Veale from West Waterford AC in the final of the 5000 metres walk.
Competing against 15 of the best young athletes in the world in very humid conditions, the Dungarvan schoolgirl once again rose to the occasion to finish a very close-up fourth and only missed out on a bronze medal by just over one second, which in race walking is very little indeed.
To give an idea of the class she was competing against the three athletes that beat her all achieved personal-best times, while Kate herself also smashed her own Irish Junior record in the process by a massive 15.3 seconds with a time of 22:36.97.
She was always in contention from the start and was never overawed by the occasion or the atmosphere inside the Bishan Stadium. With 400 metres to go Kate was battling for bronze with the leader at that stage, Ukraine’s Galchenko, who looked likely to take gold and Russian Leontyeva in the silver medal position.
Team manager Bernie Alcorn expressed her absolute delight with Kate’s performance in such humid conditions and said the Dungarvan girl “gave it 110% out there tonight.”
The St Augustine’s College student, who was recently named Crown Plaza athlete of the month for June, has been one of the revelations of 2010, improving with every outing, and smashing records at all levels.
Her fourth-place finish at the European Youth Olympics trials in Moscow in May, together with last weekend’s superb effort marks her as an athlete for the big occasion.
Two athletes who had finished second and third in front of Kate in the European qualifier were behind her in Singapore – one from Ukraine and one from Greece. Only one other Irish athlete competed at the Games, namely Mark English of Letterkenny who reached the 1000 metres final where he finished 8th.
Athletics Ireland President Liam Hennessy said he was thrilled with Kate’s performance, saying it was “a huge boost to race walking in Ireland.”
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