Israel Olatunde’s first thought after realising he hadn’t placed in Tuesday night’s European Athletics Championships final was the Irish 100m record that’s stood for 15 years.
“It was so great to be out there in that atmosphere,” he said. “When I knew I wasn’t in the top three at the finish, all I wanted was to see what time I got and to get the national record was a dream come true.
Now the fastest Irish man that has ever lived, Olatunde broke the Irish record in Munich where he finished sixth overall. Still only 20, he was unfazed by the occasion or the atmosphere as he finished in 10.17 seconds.
“To produce my best in a European final and become the fastest Irishman in history, it’s amazing I’m so grateful. I got out a little slow and I remembered what my coach (Daniel Kilgallon) told me, just stay relaxed and that’s what I did. I was more excited than nervous coming out, but I told myself to just enjoy it. I’m 20 years-old and a few years ago, I never would have believed this moment would come. I’m just going to keep working and building on this.”
The Dundalk native told The Irish Times earlier this year that it’s his target to break 10 seconds.
*“I think about breaking 10 seconds one day. If I just keep doing what I need to do, that can come. The faster you get, the harder it is to improve. So, you have to find different things to improve on. But I also love this sport, really want to see how far I can take it, go to the very top.”
Olatunde broke the Irish record of 10.18 seconds which had stood to Paul Hession going all the way back to 2007. Someone he has spoken fondly of in that past:
*“Loads of respect for Paul Hession, Irish records at 60m, 100m, and 200m. That’s so impressive, honestly, I’m quite baffled how he was able to do that, a class athlete. But records are meant to be broken, it just means something right is being done in the sport.”
*This article was amended on August 17th 2022 to clarify that some of the remarks by Israel Olatunde were made in an interview with The Irish Times in January 2022.