HomeSportsSarah Lavin and Nick Griggs fly the Irish flag high at 70th...

Sarah Lavin and Nick Griggs fly the Irish flag high at 70th edition of the Cork City Sports

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On a cool, windy night at the newly opened track at Munster Technological University, Lavin unleashed a clean, crisp display of hurdling to power clear of USA’s Talie Bonds (12.95) and Liberia’s Ebony Morrison (13.15).

“I would have liked to go a little bit quicker, but I’ll take it,” said Lavin. “I’m really in a hard training block at the moment with one month to go (until the Paris Olympics) and it’s great to get out and practise a few things under pressure.”

Griggs has set a slew of underage Irish records across various distances in recent years and the 19-year-old Tyrone star put the disappointment of missing out on the Paris Olympics behind him with a courageous, classy run in the men’s 3,000m. USA’s Olin Hacker proved a class apart, blasting away on the final lap to win in 7:40.49 but Griggs was close behind in third, taking one second off Darragh McElhinney’s Irish U-23 record.

Louise Shanahan turned in a fine performance to finish second in the women’s 800m, the Leevale athlete putting a disappointing European Championships firmly behind her when edging second in 2:02.65 behind USA’s McKenna Keegan (2:01.60).

“To be racing at the Cork City Sports is a dream,” said Shanahan. “I’ve never raced the senior race here and I’d have loved to win, but the next best thing is finishing second. The race was fantastic, the entire way around I could hear people cheering for me.”

It was a good night’s work too for local hero Phil Healy, the Bandon sprinter finishing fourth in the 100m in 11.45, won by Celera Barnes of USA in 11.14, and fifth in the 200m in 23.34, a race won by Australian teenage star Torrie Lewis in 23.01 ahead of former US and NCAA 400m champion Talitha Diggs (23.09).

“Coming home always brings big support, huge credit to everyone for coming out and supporting,” said Healy.

Sophie Becker tested her speed in the same race, the Paris-bound 400m specialist finishing fifth in 23.51. “I didn’t really know how to run it,” laughed Becker. “But I’m happy with that. It’s a good marker. It’s a lovely, fast track – I think my body just wasn’t ready for that. Training is going well. I didn’t have a big block of training since April so I have a few weeks now with a lot of work to do.

“It’s the pinnacle of our sport, the highest level there is, there’s nothing better than representing your country.”

Mark Smyth produced a brilliant run to set a PB of 20.60 in the men’s 200m, which was good enough to win his section but placed him third overall. Reece Ademola thrilled the home crowd with a victory in the men’s long jump, soaring 7.71m to edge fellow Corkman Shane Howard to victory, with Howard jumping 7.70m and USA’s Jason Smith back in third with 7.60m. “Cork City Sports will always have a special place in my heart,” said Ademola.

Bandon hammer thrower Nicola Tuthill got the perfect preparation for her upcoming Olympic debut by finishing third against two of the world’s best, the 20-year-old throwing 69.90m behind US pair Brooke Anderson (73.10m) and Janee Kassanavoid (73.10m). “It’s amazing to be able to come up with a top three,” said Tuthill. “I would like to be a bit more consistent, closer to that 70, but I’m training in a very heavy training block at the moment.”

Sophie O’Sullivan faded out of contention in the women’s 3,000m, a race she was using to build her fitness ahead of her Olympic debut over 1,500m next month. She came home 12th in 9:08.66, a race won by USA’s Taylor Werner in 8:43.12.

The night finished with a thrilling men’s mile where Nathan Green of the USA unleashed a devastating kick to win in 3:53.67, leading 12 men under the four-minute barrier. Ireland’s Cathal Doyle came through strongly to finish second in 3:54.48, with American Sam Prakel a close third in 3:54.48.

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