TULLAMORE Harriers’ athletes Cara Todd (Tullamore College) and Chinnie Izuchukwu (Colaiste Choilm) recently had their first experiences as Irish International athletes last weekend.
In the picturesque surroundings of Strathallan Boarding School, situated about five minutes south of Perth in Scotland, they were part of a squad thirty two Irish athletes who competed against English Scottish and Welsh Schools in the SIAB Schools International Cross Country competition.
The sun shone throughout the competition and spectators were able to follow the progress of the athletes at regular intervals on a magnificent course which although hilly had firm underfoot conditions. This meant that races went off quickly from the start and that the pace was generally relentless.
The first eight Irish to toe the line were the Junior girls. Their team captain Clodagh O’Reilly (Loreto College, Cavan) was quickly into the leading pack and pushed the pace along for the first kilometer. Although a group of five English girls broke clear at this point the Irish girls did their best to stay in contention as the field strung out.
Nadia Power (St. MacDara’s CC) fought her way through the pack and was rewarded with a eight place finish with Clodagh O’Reilly less the ten seconds behind her in tenth place. Cara had started conservatively and it was soon clear that this was a wise decision as the pace at the front was red hot. She raced hard all the way and should be rightly proud of her 28th place finish which saw her being one of the scorers on the Irish team.
Josh Kerr of Scotland set a blistering pace from the start of the Junior boys race and within a kilometer had a lead of fifty metres or so. This resulted in the chasing pack being strung out from the very start and all the boys were breathing heavily as they moved onto the three kilometer loop. Padraic Creaven (St. Mary’s College Galway) had started conservatively but in the second half of the race was passing competitors regularly and moved all the way up to ninth place and was within half a minute of the winner.
Padraic provided a fine example for the team and by the end of the four kilometers the entire Irish team were in the top twenty.
Chinnie Izuchukwu was part of the pack of Irish athletes who pushed through the field over the last two kilometers and he sprinted the last hills that determinedly that he was within soconds of a top ten finish. Still his 16th place (fourth Irish athlete home) was a fine performace.
These fine team scores meant that the team were clearly the second place team with thirty points to spare over Scotland in third. Chinnie came home with a silver interational medal. Not a bad result for this novice cross country runner.