Sarah Healy wins 3,000m gold at European Under-18s

The 17-year-old was targeting the 1,500m but proved unbeatable over a longer stretch

Sarah Healy won gold in the 3,000m at the European Under-18 Championships.

Sarah Healy won gold in the 3,000m at the European Under-18 Championships.

 

Rarely has an Irish athlete of any age won a gold medal with such ease and confidence, Sarah Healy boldly completely the first half of a distance-running double at the European Under-18 Championships with victory in the 3,000 metres.

The 17 year-old from Monkstown in south Dublin travelled to Gyor, Hungary targeting the 1,500m only, but after qualifying for the final in that distance earlier on Friday, Healy came out later in the evening for the 3,000m, run as a straight final, and proved unbeatable.

Alessia Zarbo from France, who had run faster outdoors this season, did try to break the Irish athlete early on, but Healy simply bided her time before hitting the front with two and a half laps from home, and stretching her margin of victory all the way to the finish - winning in 9:18.05, a championship best. Inci Kalkin from Turkey was a long way back in second in 9:29.91, Zarbo holding on for bronze in 9:25.25

“I wasn’t always planning on doing it but I decided: why not?” Healy said, when asked what prompted her double attempt: “The schedule worked out, so we thought we’d give it a go. And it feels amazing. The competition is that big tougher, but I’m really happy I did the 3km, it feels great,

“I didn’t know how fast it would be early on, and the first few laps did feel fast, but it slowed down a bit, and the more it went on, I began to feel better”

Not to be outdone, Sophie O’Sullivan booked her place in the 800m final with an excellent display of tactics of confidence: fourth at the bell, O’Sullivan hit the front around the final bend before settling for a close second place behind Germany’s Sophia Volkmer, who clocked a personal best of 2:07.78, with O’Sullivan, daughter of Olympic silver medallist Sonia O’Sullivan, just a stride behind in 2:07.95 - and with every chance of fighting for a medal in Saturday’s final.

The rain and wet track made for difficult sprinting conditions later in the evening, and there was no denying Patience Jumbo-Gula had a poor start in her 100m final, finishing outside her best in fifth, clocking 11.87, having run a championship best of 11.59 to qualify in her semi-final on Thursday evening.

“It didn’t go to plan,” she said. “The start really put me off, but it’s a lesson, it’s been a long road to get here. And I’m grateful to everyone.”

Victory there went to Gudbjörg Jóna Bjarnadottir from Iceland in 11.75; the St Gerard’s Dundalk athlete will be back on the track on Sunday when Jumbo-Gula as part of the medley relay.

Rhasidat Adeleke from Tallaght AC also continued her excellent form to book her place in the 200m semi-finals, finishing second in her heat in 23.90 despite running in lane eight, and is ranked fifth fastest going into the semi-finals on Saturday evening.

Healy, meanwhile, now leads the European under-18 lists in the 800m, 1,500m and 3,000m, and goes in Sunday’s 1,500m final with her time of 4:09.25 some 10 seconds faster than the next best entrant.

Healy warmed up for Gyor with a 2:02.76 for 800m last week, also the fastest time at under-18 youth level in Europe and an Irish junior record; she already proving her championship credentials by winning the European Youth Olympics last summer, and the Irish senior indoor 3,000m title earlier this year.

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