A sporting spectacle unfolded at Athlone Institute of Technology as the International Grand Prix athletics played to a capacity crowd at the state of the art facility on Thursday night.
With focus very much on the Irish athletes participating, new national and stadium records were posted much to the delight of the athletics enthusiasts present who created a major din throughout proceedings.
Middle distance runner, Ciara Mageean, set a new Irish and stadium record in the TG4 Women’s 1500m with a time of 4:06:78, with a tactically superb performance and has boosted confidence ahead of the upcoming European Championships in Glasgow.
Mark English also performed strongly claiming first place in the highly competitive Midlands Print Men’s 800m. The crowd watched with bated breath as English burst past Eric Sowinski of the USA on the back straight, refusing to relinquish his lead and ultimately setting a time of 1:46:92. Coming in an impressive third, Ireland’s Zak Curran posted a time of 1:47:73, placing two Irishmen on the podium.
Back to defend his Ericsson 400m title, Irish Olympian Thomas Barr narrowly missed out on first place to Dutch runner Tony Van Diepen who edged him out in a dramatic sprint finish. Barr dipped late and fell as he crossed the line but it was narrowly in vain as Van Diepen claimed the ultimate place.
An event highlight was the performance of Asia’s fastest man SU Bingtian from China who posted a stadium record when winning the 60m in a time of 6.52 seconds.
Reigning Olympic Champion Thiago Braz de Silva arrived in the international arena for the Hodson Bay Group men’s pole vault event with the stadium record of 5.77m firmly in his sights but it just was not his night as he maxed out at 5.45m. Tommi Holttinnen (FIN ) was a gleeful winner as he beat off the challenge of Pål Lillefosse (NOR ) on countback as both cleared 5.65m.