AFTER an absence of almost three years, there is a welcome anticipation in the air as international athletics returns to Leeside on Tuesday July 5 with the 69th edition of the Cork City Sports, sponsored once again by BAM Ireland.
At the recent announcement of the company’s continued support at the BAM Offices at Little Island, the City Sports committee was delighted to have in attendance Olympic silver-medalist Sonia O’Sullivan, as Chairman Tony O’Connell explained: “It was great to see an athlete such as Sonia giving such support to the event, she said she would turn up and she keeps in contact with us all the time.”
This year the meeting has attained a prestigious World Athletics Continental Tour Bronze permit which should give the event a raised status, according to Meet Director Joe Hartnett.
“The Continental Tour was the brainchild of Galway man Pierce O Callaghan, Head of Competition Management for World Athletics.
"It puts a structure on one day athletics meetings throughout the world comprising of Gold, Silver and Bronze level meetings, on each continent.
“We’re delighted that the BAM Cork City Sports is the only Bronze permit meeting in Ireland and its great news because it will bring world class athletics back to the country for the first time since 2019.
"It also offers the opportunity to a new era of Irelands established and up and coming athletes to compete against the best and hopefully achieve qualification for major championships.”
Of course a lot has happened in the world of athletics since 2019, especially here at home with the arrival on the scene of such exciting talents as Bantry’s Darragh McElhinney and Nick Griggs from Tyrone.
The latter was unknown just 12 months ago but since then has gone on to win the European U20 3000m title and set a European U20 indoor mile record of 3:56.40.
With McElhinney also breaking four minutes last season, the always-popular mile event again promises to be one of the highlights at the MTU track where in 2019 the first four athletes achieved the iconic ‘sub-four’ clocking.
There is an abundance of Irish talent in athletics at the moment, particularly in the sprints.
Three years ago Phil Healy was returning from injury and had to settle for two fourth places but of course since then the Bandon star has moved up to another level.
Along with Rhasidat Adekele, who recently set a new Irish record for 200m, Sarah Lavin and Molly Scott, some exciting sprinting action can be expected on what hopefully will be a warm July evening.
“It’s all systems go at this stage,” says Tony O’Connell.
“We’re delighted to be able to hold the meet again after two years of postponements, there’s a lot of effort put in by the voluntary committee and we’re all looking forward to putting on a good show once again.”