For the second time in four years Ireland has the best teenage sprinter in all of Europe. Running calm and looking truly undaunted, Rhasidat Adeleke continued her remarkable winning streak of underage sprint titles with victory in the 100 metres at the European under-20 Championships in Tallinn, Estonia.
On a suitably hot day at the Kadriorg Stadium, Adeleke produced another blistering run from the gun to take the win in 11.34 seconds, her now seventh underage sprint medal in all: she doesn’t turn 19 until next month.
There’s every chance Adeleke will add a second gold medal on Saturday – the Dublin sprinter returning to the track just two hours after her victory to win her 200m heat in 23.20 seconds, arguably her best event, over half a second faster than the next best qualifier.
Her 100m victory also brings this European sprint title back to Ireland just four years after Gina Apke-Moses won it for the first time in Grosseto, Italy in 2017, her winning time on that occasion 11.71 seconds.
Like that performance, Adeleke made no mistake, starting brilliantly out of lane five and controlling the race the entire way, Ivana Ilic from Serbia coming through in lane one to snatch silver in 11.42, with Britain's Joy Eze winning bronze in 11.44. In truth Adeleke was in a class of her own, running to the stands to embrace her father Prince in the immediate aftermath of her win.
It also adds to the gold Adeleke won over 200 in the European under-18 Championships in Gyor, Hungary in 2018, before in 2019 winning a rare sprint double at the European Youth Olympics in Baku.
At one point in contention for place in Olympic the 4x400m mixed relay team in Tokyo, Adeleke also continues to build further on her record season to date. Back in May, she continued her already record-breaking freshman season at the University of Texas when clocking 22.96 seconds in her heat of the 200m, while competing at the Big 12 Conference championships, staged at Kansas State University, in Manhattan, Kansas. That improved Phil Healy’s Irish senior record of 22.99, which had stood to the Cork runner since 2018.
Last month at the national championships in Santry, Adeleke also won her first senior 100m title, and might well have improved her own Irish under-20 record in the process too, her time of 11.29 seconds (just shy of Healy’s national record of 11.28) ruled out given the tailwind was just over the legal limit.
Her sprint double in Baku in 2019 was the sixth championship medal in the short career of the then 16-year-old (Adeleke was also part of the 4x100m relay team that won the silver medal at the 2018 World under-20 championships in Finland.) Earlier this season, Adeleke twice broke the Irish under-20 200m record, which had lasted 21 years, clocking 23.25 seconds.
Before this season – her previous 200m best of 23.52 – Adeleke was poised to go faster last year before Covid-19 brought about a series of cancellations, from her written Leaving Cert exams at Presentation Terenure to the World under-20 Athletics Championships, set for Nairobi, Kenya, and now rescheduled for this August, one week after the Tokyo Olympics.
Ireland has two other medal contenders on Saturday afternoon, Cian McPhillips in the 1,500m final, and Nick Griggs in the 3,000m.