A BUSY and successful season for Cork athletes saw two field event exponents honoured with the Cork City Sports Athlete of the Month awards for June and July.
David Cussen, of the Old Abbey club was the June recipient following his performance at the Irish Life Health/National Championships where he took his third outdoor senior high jump title with a clearance of 2.10m in very adverse conditions.
The 26-year-old tops the year’s Irish ranking list with his 2.12m clearance achieved in Belgium the following month and he’s also a clear leader indoors following his 2.15m at Abbotstown back in February which also won him the national title.
Speaking at the awards function at the River Lee hotel, Cussen admitted the conditions at Santry weren’t the best.
“You kind of have to overcome the conditions, we’re sort of used to the Irish weather but I was delighted to retain my title, so I suppose it was quite a decent performance.”
A twice-former winner of the Cork City Sports award, Cussen is ranked 11th on the Irish all-time outdoor list with his 2.17m from 2020, while indoors his 2.15m this year places him eighth amongst Irish high jumpers.
He is also number one on the all-time Cork list at both senior and junior (2.13m in 2013) grades.
Training for the high jump involves both indoor and outdoor work.
“It’s mainly a power-based event, so therefore there’s a lot of sprinting, a lot of jumping, obviously, and work in the gym, so you try and work those three together to find a balance,” he says.
The European Indoor championships next spring is Cussen’s next aim.
I’m looking forward already to next year, I’d like to take it to another level and jump 2.20m-plus.
"I had a good crack at it this year so I’m nearly there; it’s just getting the final few pieces together.”
Irish sprinting is on an all-time high at the moment and one of Leevale’s rising young stars, Lucy-May Sleeman, is the Cork City Sports Athlete of the Month for July.
At the national junior U20 championships that month the 18-year-old recorded a comprehensive sprint double, winning the 100m in a personal best of 11.63 along with the 200m where she recorded 24.32.
One of three Cork athletes selected for the World U20 championships which took place in Cali, Columbia, the following month, Sleeman knocked another 0.01 seconds from that 100m time when finishing sixth in her semi-final.
She also recorded 24.08 in her heat of the 200m – just 0.1 outside qualification for the next round.
In what has been wonderful season, the Bruce College student also notched up a sprint double at the Irish Life Health/All Ireland Schools in Tullamore when taking the 100m title in 11.96 before following up with the 200m gold in 24.78.
“I was very, very happy to break my personal best in Colombia, even if it was only by .01.
“During the race there was a storm with thunder and lighting, so I didn’t get time to finish my warm-up as we were rushed to the call room.
We were there for around 40 minutes and then we were told there would be a two-hour delay so it was nice to finally get out there, I was raring to go at that stage.”
The Leevale athlete is already faster than Olympian Phil Healy was at her age, 11.62 for 100m the fastest-ever achieved by a Cork U20 athlete.
The year ahead will be a busy one for Lucy-May as she sits her Leaving Cert but she’s also already looking forward to the indoor season.
“Indoor season should be exciting for me because my starting has got a lot better this year and I was also very proud of my reaction time, so hopefully that will translate to the indoors.”
The Cork City Sports Athletics Person of the Month Award is sponsored by the River Lee, 96&C103FM, The Echo, Cork Crystal and Leisureworld.