Israel Olatunde clocks second-fastest time in Irish history in Munich

Israel Olatunde powered to a win in 10.19 seconds in the opening round heats of the men’s 100 metres at the European Championships
Israel Olatunde clocks second-fastest time in Irish history in Munich

Will Downing

Israel Olatunde clocked the second-fastest time in Irish history in scorching to victory in the opening round heats of the men’s 100 metres at the European Championships in Munich.

Olatunde powered to a win in 10.19 seconds, one-hundredth outside Paul Hession’s long-standing record of 10.18, set at the European Cup in Vaasa in 2007.

In control for the full race, the Irish sprinter had 0.11 to spare over Poland’s Dominik Kopec in second on 10.30.

The UCD athlete broke his own personal best by five-hundredths to break his own Irish U23 record – he had set his previous mark of 10.24 at the Irish U23 Championships in Tullamore last month - but realistically would need to break the senior Irish record in tomorrow night’s semi-final to have a chance of reaching the final.

The 20-year-old’s new PB ranks him sixth in terms of season’s best among the eight in his semi, which features Italy’s Olympic 100m champion Lamont Jacobs.

Only the top two from his semi-final, plus the next two fastest across all three semi-finals, are guaranteed a spot in the final.

Speaking to RTÉ after his race, Olatunde said: “It’s great to be part of a big Irish team. It’s full of quality and you just want to give your best. I’ve definitely done my best in the heats.”

Earlier, new Irish record holder Eric Favors narrowly missed out on qualification for the shot put final, throwing 19.71m to fall 20 cm short of Simon Bayer’s qualifying mark of 19.91m. He was 15th overall.

Women’s marathon

Meanwhile, a strong showing from Fionnuala McCormack saw her take seventh place for Ireland in the European Championships women’s marathon in Munich.

McCormack was up with the leading group up to the final five kilometres, and was leading at the front of the pack at various times during the race.

Ireland’s Fionnuala McCormack finishes in 7th place. Photo: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Exceptionally warm conditions affected the pace, with the temperature rising towards 35 degrees for a competition that got underway at 10:30am local time – the men’s race starting an hour later.

The twice European cross-country champion had been ranked second in Europe in terms of times this season going into the race, and looked comfortable as part of the front-leading group as it was whittled down from twenty to less than ten inside the closing stages.

However, the race fractured past the 35km mark, with McCormack falling off the back of the ever-reducing group, rallying to pass the line in seventh, in 2:29:25 – only 33 seconds off the medals.

31-year-old Anastasia Lisowska of Poland won in 2:28:26, ahead of Croatia's Matea Parlov Kostro, seven seconds down, with Nienke Brinkman of the Netherlands pipping home German athlete Miriam Dattke to take bronze in 2:28:52.

Ireland took fifth in the team competition, due to a 28th place finish for Donegal athlete Ann-Marie McGlynn in 2:38:26, with Youghal’s national champion Aoife Cooke 34th in 2:40:37.

Cooke had led McGlynn for much of the race, only for Letterkenny AC athlete McGlynn to pick up pace in the final two kilometres.

A timing error had seen Cooke wrongly credited with tenth place midway through the race.

McCormack said afterwards: “I was going for a medal. At a European championship, you would always be hoping for a medal, and believing you can do it. So I was quite disappointed with the result in the end.

“I had put myself in the position for a medal up to 35k, which was not quite good enough. But I suppose I was up there for a good bit.”

Women’s Marathon Ireland’s Aoife Cooke. Photo: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Cooke said: “In my head I had top 30 as a target, but I’ll take it. I was just struggling on the last lap but I just wanted to get through it, and not let many people past me.

“The last 5k, there was nobody passing me so I would be satisfied with that.”

McGlynn summed up her race with: “The job was to get around and be as strong as I could. Top 30 was fine, I had thought in advance it woud have been nice, and I just dipped under it.”

A thrilling sprint finish saw Germany’s Richard Ringer win on home soil, slenderly pipping Israel’s Maru Teferi by two seconds – 2:10:21 the winning time.

Mayo’s Hugh Armstrong was 58th in 2:25:27, citing a difficult final build-up, but a desire to finish the race.

In Monday evening track action, Phil Healy and Sharlene Mawdsley are slated for 400m heats action, with Luke McCann and Andrew Coscoran in the 1500m semi-finals heats.

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