Leevale’s Ademola wins U20 athlete of the year award

Leevale’s Ademola wins U20 athlete of the year award

U20 Athlete of the Year Reece Ademola with Athletics Ireland President John Cronin and RSA Insurance Managing Director Elaine Robinson. Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

LEEVALE'S Reece Ademola was picked as the U20 Athlete of the Year and Leevale selected as the Performance Club of the Year at the recent 123.ie National Athletics Awards. 

Ademola was honoured for his superb fifth-place finish in the men’s long jump final at the World U20 Athletics Championships in Columbia.  He produced the jump of his life to set a new national U20 long jump record of 7.83m, a record he had broken a day earlier (7.76m) on his way to qualifying for the World U20 final.

The U20 award was hotly contested with nominees also including World U20 finalists Nick Griggs (Mid Ulster AC), Nicola Tuthill (Bandon AC), and Dean Casey (Ennis Track).

Ciara Mageean (City of Lisburn) was named as the Athlete of the Year at the event in the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Mageean took top honours after her superb season which saw the Portaferry star claim a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in August, before going on to claim yet another major medal with a superb silver-medal-winning-performance at the European Championships in Munich.

Mageean’s season didn’t stop there, going on produce the best performance of her career to date to break Sonia O’Sullivan’s Irish 1500m record on her way to victory at the Diamond League meeting in Brussels on September 2nd (3:56.63).

The two-time Olympian carved more than two seconds off O’Sullivan’s previous record of 3:58.85 set in 1995, and it brought her home ahead of European champion and Olympic silver medallist Laura Muir of Britain.

Performance Club of the Year Leevale AC during the 123.ie National Athletics Awards. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Performance Club of the Year Leevale AC during the 123.ie National Athletics Awards. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

The Irish 1500m record holder also walked away with the Track and Field Athlete of Year Award, fending off strong competition from fellow Munich medallist Mark English (Finn Valley AC), as well as Sarah Lavin (Emerald AC) and Louise Shanahan (Leevale AC) who both enjoyed stellar seasons.

Rhasidat Adeleke (Tallaght AC) announced herself on the world stage with a blistering run in the final of the women's 400m at the European Championships in Munich earlier this summer, finishing fifth and setting a new Irish record. The Tallaght AC sprinter received the U23 Athlete of Year Award ahead of the exciting trio of Israel Olatunde (UCD AC), Sarah Healy (UCD AC), and Kate O’Connor (Dundalk St Gerard’s AC).

Catherina McKiernan was a very popular inductee into the Hall of Fame for 2022. The county Cavan native enjoyed her first major cross-country success in 1988 when she won the Irish schools cross-country title. From there, her career as a cross country runner blossomed, winning silver at the World Cross Country Championships four years in succession from 1992 to 1995. In 1994, McKiernan won gold at the inaugural European Cross-Country Championships in Alnwick, England.

She would go on to represent Ireland at the Olympic Games in 1992 and 1996. In 1997, she moved up to the marathon and ran the fastest debut ever by a woman at the time, when she won the Berlin Marathon in a new Irish record of 2.23.44. McKiernan would go on to win the London marathon in 1998, while also bettering her Irish record at the Amsterdam Marathon in a time of 2.22.23 NR which still ranks top of the Irish all-time list.

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