Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Storming Rhasidat Adeleke’s run leads Ireland to the medal podium at the World Athletics Relays

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Wow. Whenever Rhasidat Adeleke takes the baton, it feels like anything can happen and so it proved once again, the Dublin sprinter running one of the fastest 400 metres split in championship history to lead Ireland on to the medal podium at the World Athletics Relays in the Bahamas.

From Nassau direct to Paris, this event may have been mostly about Olympic qualification, only Adeleke made sure the Irish quartet signed off in sensational style, nailing the bronze medal in the mixed 4×400 metres after a thrilling final showdown with the USA and the Netherlands.

Just as they’d done when winning Saturday’s heat to ensure their Paris berth, Cillin Greene, Rhasidat Adeleke, Thomas Barr and Sharlene Mawdsley combined with fearless determination, finishing in another national record of 3:11.53.

Again running the second leg, Adeleke ran a split time of 48.45 seconds – the fastest ever recorded at the World Relays, and faster on the night than the reigning Olympic 400 metre champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo from the Bahamas (49.54), and reigning World 400 metre champion Marileidy Paulino from the Dominican Republic. (48.93).

“I just wanted to try my best to put Tom in the best position going forward,” said Adeleke, the 21-year-old further stamping her authority on the event. “I was able to catch a couple of people and I knew Tom would be able to hold it and that Sharlene would finish well. I really appreciate my team-mates.”

One day after breaking the championship record in their heat, the US team did it again in the final, winning in 3:10.73 – the fastest ever time outside of a global championships.

Matthew Boling gave the team an early lead on the first leg, then handed over to Lynna Irby-Jackson, who soon found Adeleke chasing her down.

I’ll be making the most of this. It’s a great start to the Olympic season and we couldn’t have asked for much more today

—  Sharlene Mawdsley

Willington Wright gave the US a bit more breathing room on the third leg, then he handed over to Kendall Ellis who anchored the team to victory.

Behind, Femke Bol from the Netherlands just held off the challenge from Mawdsley to take second place in 3:11.45, just 0.08 of a second ahead of Ireland.

“I’ll be making the most of this. It’s a great start to the Olympic season and we couldn’t have asked for much more today,” Mawdsley added, the 25-year-old from Tipperary, like Adeleke, racing for the third time in three days.

Nigeria just missed the podium but was rewarded with an African record of 3:12.87

“It’s absolutely unbelievable, it’s the stuff of the dreams … I don’t think we expected it at all, we couldn’t be happier,” Greene said, the final time improving on the 3:12.50 from Saturday.

With 893 of the world’s finest sprinters, from 54 countries, descending on Nassau, qualification for the Paris was foremost on all their minds, and both the Irish women’s 4×400 metres and mixed 4×400 metres relay had achieved that goal in Saturday’s heats and then some, unquestionably two of the best relay performances in Irish athletics history.

“I’m very proud of this team and what we’ve built in the last couple of years. We gave it absolutely everything we had today … We always punch above our weight. We all come together as a team. It’s a big win for us.”

Just 30 minutes after that storming run, the women’s 4×400 metre team went into their final also eyeing a podium position, and finished seventh in 3:30.9, that gold medal also going the US in 3:21.70.

Phil Healy ran the first leg in 52.38, with Róisín Harrison clocking 53.27, Lauren Cadden 53.09, before Sophie Becker anchored them with a 52.21-second leg.

Only the top two in Saturday’s heats qualified automatically for Paris (the rest battling it out again for the remaining sports in Sunday’s repechage rounds), with Adeleke proving utterly pivotal to those victories on Saturday, then leaving that sensational mark in the final, further underlining her status as one of the most exciting one-lap runners in the world.

Jack Raftery and Christopher O’Donnell completed the men’s squad, Roisin Harrison, Lauren Cadden and Rachal McCann also on the women’s squad, the next task being to bring this form into the European Athletics Championships in Rome in June.

Then Paris beckons.

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