DSD Masters Shine Bright in European Masters in Braga, Portugal
A total of 6 DSDAC Masters Athletes competed in the European Masters Indoors Championships in Braga, Portugal - held from 20th-27th Feb 2022.
Pride of place must go to Avril Dillon competing in the W40 category who took home a full suite of medals, setting 3 new Irish Records in the process, with some outstanding performances: Gold - 4x200m W40 Relay, Avril led out the 1st leg of the relay and set the team up for their gold-medal winning performance (team-mates included Kathryn McDevitt, Annette Quaid and Sinead O'Regan). Their time of 1.45.43 was a new Irish Record (shattering the existing record of 2.00.20).
Silver - 60m Hurdles in a scorching hot 8.90 seconds - a new Irish Record (and just 5/100ths of a second from Gold). Bronze - 60m in an equally fast time of 7.88 seconds, having broken the Irish Record in her Heats with 7.87 secs. Avril's Bronze in the Final was all the more remarkable as her blocks slipped at the start due to some faulty equipment yet she still was within 2/100th of a second of Gold, in a blanket photofinish.
Also medalling was Adina Gheorghiu, competing for Romania, in the W45 category. Adina took home 2 medals. She ran a superb race to win Silver in the 200m in a new Romanian Record of 26.57 seconds. Adina also won Bronze in the 60m in 8.17 seconds (only 5/100ths of a second off Silver).
Shane Sheridan had an excellent European Championships in M60 category. He finished in 4th place in 8.03 secs in 60m and followed that up with finishing 3rd in the 200m semi-finals in a new Irish Record of 26.75 secs.
3 DSDAC athletes (Shane Sheridan, Ronan Gately & Kevin Byrne) combined, along with David Stewart of Derry, to form the Irish M50 4x200m Relay Team. Unfortunately they ended up in 4th place just outside the medals, but did have the satisfaction of beating their British counterparts!
DSD Club President and Coach and Masters legend, Lucy Moore also performed strongly in the W60 category (competing against some athletes nearly 5 years her junior) with the following results: 5th in Hammer Throw in 25.17m, just 0.77m outside the medals (and not far off her existing Irish Record set in 2020); 7th in Triple Jump with 6.88m and 9th in Shot-Put in 8.04m.
Kevin Byrne just returning from injury finished 8th in the M50 Pole Vault with a jump of 3.00m and was very unlucky in 60m Hurdles, just getting to 2nd hurdle a fraction too fast, resulting in hitting the hurdle and a fall. He ran an outstanding leg in the above mentioned 4x200m relay.
Ronan Gately also returning from injury (the plight of the masters athlete!) was happy with his times of 8.39 seconds in the 60m Heats and 27.54 seconds in 200m Heats.
It was a truly wonderful European Championships, with the comraderie and sense of community amongst the 87 Masters athletes in the Irish Team second to none. In total Team Ireland won 59 medals (24 Gold, 18 Silver and 17 Bronze), our best performance ever at an International Championship (best previously was 41 medals at World Championships in Torun, Poland in 2019). This resulted in Team Ireland ending up 7th on the overall medal table (well ahead of some much larger nations including Poland, Denmark, Austria etc).
Special mention to joint Team Managers Anne Gormley and Patrick Crossan who put in a trojan amount of work over the full week of competition. Also to Ian Egan, Physcial Therapist, who travelled out at his own expense and tended expertly to all the niggles and injuries of the Irish athletes.
Finally it would be remiss not to acknowledge the generosity of all the Masters athletes from Team Ireland who made a special collection amongst themselves and raised €2,000 cash plus additional gear and clothing which was presented to the Ukrainian Masters athletics team. These athletes from Ukraine are still stuck in Portugal, unable to return home to their partners and children due to the conflict in their country. In a very emotional and poignant presentation the Ukrainian athletes expressed their deep gratitude to all those still present. We can only hope and pray that they can return safely to their families as quickly as possible. Ronan Gately (Masters Track & Field Captain)