One of the most astonishing displays of tenacity and courage ever witnessed on an Irish running track was enacted in Santry on Sunday at the National Senior Track & Field Championships 5000m. A large field of 17 athletes qualified from the previous day, for the 5000m final and Hiko Tonosa was drawn on the inside of the line-up. With the first bend coming up in the first 50m, Hiko got away quite well, but as the charge for the inside lane started, tragedy almost struck. Hiko was spiked quite badly, with his shoe slipping off his foot. He had to give away almost 50 metres as he hopped on one foot while replacing the shoe. Hiko did not panic and gradually made his way back to the leading bunch after four laps and he settled back into the rhythm of the race. The question was how much the incident would affect his sprint finish against last year’s champion Ryan Forsyth, who made a big move at the bell for the final lap. Hiko followed and produced an explosive final thrust as they entered the last 100m. Such was his reaction that he forged almost 20m clear from a top class field. Even more astonishing, at the finish line, was the discovery that his shoe had been shredded, and blood flowed from the injury. This would have stopped most athletes but his courageous and competitive spirit ensured victory for the D.S.D. man.
Tribute must also go to Paul O’Donnell, his club mate, who took the lead going into the last three laps, and was rewarded with a silver medal in the U.23 category.
Having now won the National 10,000m on the road and achieving his Refugee Status, Hiko cannot wait to wear the Irish vest in International competition, and this display puts him in one of the top spots for European and Olympic representation.
Siofra Cleirigh Buttner fought a gallant fight in the 1500m, where she was overtaken by Sarah Healy (Blackrock AC) in the last lap, as the 18 year old Healy surged to her first national senior title. Siofra was 2nd in 4.32.26.
Former Chairman of D.S.D., John Eves, finished 6th in a tough 10,000m, 31.02.78, followed home in 14th place by Emmet Jennings 32.28.60.
Meghan Ryan ran her best 5,000m race to date, finishing in 4th place in 17.17.69.
Other finalist were Fiona Clinton 1500m 10th, after a great qualifying place in heat 4.35.15. Sinead Denny took a break from the 400m and finished 8th in the 800m in 2.12.63. Kate Doherty was unfortunate to fall heavily at the second hurdle, in the 100m hurdles and was unable to finish. James Holden was 8th in the “B” 100 in 11.45 (11.29 heat); he placed 5th in the 200m heats 22.70.
Aengus Meldon just missed qualification by one place in the 800m with a time of 1.54.38 in the first heat of four. Ciarán Carthy ran a good 400m heat in 48.92, just missing out on qualification.
Well done to all!