Cork athletes in field of their own

Cork athletes in field of their own

Sam Healy of Ireland AON men's long jump during the BAM Cork City Sports at Munster Technological University Athletics Stadium in Bishopstown, Cork. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

TO say that track and field athletics is dominated by track events is an understatement. 

Track events have always dominated competitions, with field events relegated to the second tier. 

World Athletics are making great efforts to change things by introducing a break in track competition to highlight the final jumps and throws by field eventers, as seen in Diamond League competitions.

It is great to see three Cork athletes fill the top three places in this year’s ranking list for the men’s long jump. 

Sam Healy of Leevale has been based at the University of Texas where he is coached by Kareem Streete Thompson, an Olympian for the Cayman Islands and silver medallist in the long jump at the 2001 World championships.

Shane Howard of Bandon has been competing in athletics since he was five years of age and made a name for himself during lockdown by using bales of hay on the family farm for training, while Reece Ademola of Leevale is a recent addition to the Cork dominance.

Last year Howard was the top ranked long jumper with a best of 7.71m, with Healy number two with 7.59m and Ademola fourth with 7.47m.

Incredibly, that was Ademola’s first competition in two years that were ravaged by injury problems! 

The injuries were probably the result of a teenage growth spurt that sees him stand now at an inch under seven feet, although his hair style adds another couple of inches to his height!

At the end of June, all three competed in the long jump at the Irish Life health national championships with Healy taking home the gold with a jump of 7.54m, just 3cm further than Howard’s 7.51m for silver. 

For Ademola it was a disaster as he fouled his first two jumps. 

Shane Howard, Bandon AC competing in the Mens Long Jump, sponsored by Aon.
Shane Howard, Bandon AC competing in the Mens Long Jump, sponsored by Aon.

Needing to make a mark to remain in the competition, he jumped 7.10m in the third round, but then fouled his three remaining jumps to finish fifth overall.

All three of them got together again last week for the long jump at the BAM Cork City Sports where they were up against some strong overseas competition.

Ademola hit the ground running, so to speak, when he jumped 7.51m in the first round to add 4cm to his PB, and followed up in the third round with 7.45m. Howard jumped 7.48m twice to keep his rival in sight, but Healy was back on 7.26m.

Ademola fouled his fourth jump, but none of the Cork trio improved before taking their sixth and final jumps.

After taking his final jump, Ademola knew it was a big one, and then the wait began for the judges to raise their white flags before the call was made to ‘measure’, and the announcement ‘7.68m’, before the celebrations began. 

It was a huge new PB for the nineteen year old, and, more importantly, 3cm better than the standard for the World junior championships that will take place in Cali, Columbia later this month. 

The mark is also just 5cm off the Irish junior record held by Ciaran McDonagh since 1995, and he remains the only Irish jumper to clear eight metres.

The result also earned Ademola a podium bronze position at the Sports.

No doubt, there will be US scholarship offers for this affable young man.

Healy has graduated from Texas, but is returning there to continue his training, while Howard, an engineer, has made several visits to the States for competition and training in the past year.

The men’s shot at Cork City Sports was another field event that provided celebration time for Irish athletes with Donegal man John Kelly putting the shot 20.16m for a new Irish record – his first time over 20m – and US based Eric Favors also broke the old record that he himself held with 20.11m. 

Both have been invited by World Athletics to compete at the World championships in Oregon.

Field event provide great competition and entertainment and are well worth watching.

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