THE Cork City Sports Athletics Person of the Month Awards for July and August have gone to Diarmuid O’Connor of the Bandon club and Leevale’s Ryan Creech.
At July’s European Junior (U20) Championships in Estonia, 19-year-old O’Connor finished in a very commendable fourth place in a hotly contested decathlon competition.
With a total of eight PBs out of the 10 events, he set a new national U20 record of 7,604 points.
This improved the previous Irish best of 7,336 points which had stood to Barry Walsh since 1987.
“Everything kind of clicked over the two days,” admitted the Ballinhassig native.
“I was preparing for that weekend for over 24 months; results don’t always come so it was so nice that I could get eight personal bests on the most important stage of my life so far.”
Starting off his athletics career with Old Abbey club, he then moved to Bandon AC where he is coached by Frank Stam.
“It was by chance I found Frank, I’m so lucky to have him. He’s an amazing decathlon coach, he has so much knowledge of the sport and he’s been guiding me the last five years."
New challenges for the second-year UCC student in 2022 include an attempt at the Irish senior record.
“It currently stands at 7,880 points so it’s possible to beat it. At the moment I’m ranked fifth in the world U20 and the top 24 of all ages will go the world championships next year.
“So if I break the national record I might have a chance to get to those world championships, it’s an optimistic goal but it’s good to have optimistic goals.”
At the Antrim Coast Half-Marathon on August 29, Ryan Creech – putting four or five years of frustrating injuries behind him - led the Irish team home when finishing sixth in the elite international section of the race.
Equally impressive was his time of 63:26 which was a big personal best and makes the Glanmire man the second fastest Cork athlete over the distance behind Mark Carroll.
“Mark Carroll is some name to be behind; he was such an unbelievable athlete,” admitted Creech.
“It’s great to win this award and also great for my family. I always knew if I was ever going to make elite Olympic level my strength would be in the marathon and the half obviously along with that.
"Races have been hard to come by but I knew I was coming into form with solid performances over four and 10 miles.”
With a time of 48:50 at the latter distance in Kilbeggan, the 29-year-old not alone ran exceptionally fast but also beat a high quality field with the first four finishing inside 50 minutes.
This followed on from a solo 19-minute run in heatwave conditions at Fermoy a fortnight before over four miles.
“When I finished the half, I knew if I concentrated a bit more there’s a sub-63 there and hopefully that is world standard.
"The national cross-country is the next plan and to try and make the Euro team but there is also one eye on the World Half-Marathon championships in China next March.
“After that, hopefully the European Games in Munich in the summer and then long-term the marathon,” said the Donie Walsh-coached athlete.
The Cork City Sports Athletics Person of the Month Awards are sponsored by the River Lee, 96&C103FM, The Echo, Cork Crystal and Leisureworld.