Gold for Cian

Saturday, 17th July 2021, was a hugely momentous day in the young life of Cian McPhillips with his fantastic run to win gold in the 1500m at the European Junior Championships. Everyone involved with Longford AC was so very proud to see all his hard work and dedication to training over the past few years pay off.

Cian lined up in the 1500 metres final against many of Europe’s top junior middle-distance athletes all chasing a championship medal in the heat of Tallinn. Positioning himself in second place on the shoulder of long-time leader Kane Elliott (Great Britain), Cian was perfectly set going into the final crucial 400 metres lap. On the back straight, Britain’s Henry McLuckie and Rick Van Riel of the Netherlands moved into contention, but Cian responded and led around the bend coming into a thrilling final sprint. Showing great strength, Cian made one last push for the finish line ahead of Van Riel to win in a time of 3:46.55.

Cian showed just what a class athlete he is with a 54-second last lap in the 30 degrees Tallinn temperatures which was certainly worthy of any gold medal 1500 metres win. To do so, whilst holding off high calibre opposition, is testament to his excellent preparation and shrewd approach to racing. Incredibly that was only Cian’s third race of the outdoor track season, but he showed no lack of sharpness.

Congratulations to Cian and to his proud parents Paddy and Laura and sister Sarah. Paddy and Laura are great supporters of Cian and Sarah’s athletics pursuits. Unable to be trackside in Estonia to celebrate the victory, they were in Athlone IT to support Sarah in her 100 metres at the Connacht Championships in which she ran just 15 minutes after Cian won gold. Credit to Sarah for putting in a good run so soon after watching the dramatic finale in Tallinn via the live stream on her phone.

It was a great to hear the public address in Athlone announce the news of Cian’s victory to the assembled crowd. Many of the people present had watched Cian enjoy much success at Connacht and National events over the years and the applause that rang around AIT made for a very special moment. We look forward to celebrating and marking Cian’s achievement when and where possible. Many thanks to all who have contacted us through different means to extend their congratulations. In an exciting year for our club, with the development of our indoor facility continuing at great pace, Cian’s success has given us an extra boost and brought joy to many. The future is bright!

Saturday’s gold medal win can also be very much attributed to the superb work done by Joe Ryan. Kilbeggan-native Joe is now one of the country’s leading coaches guiding many of Ireland’s top middle-distance athletes. Well done also to Oisin Lane (Mullingar Harriers) who finished in sixth place in the 10k Walk in Estonia. Oisin, who recently completed his Leaving Cert at Mercy Ballymahon, did great completing the distance in a personal best time of 43:33. It was a fantastic European Championships for Ireland with Rhasidat Adeleke (Tallaght AC) winning double gold in the sprints and Nicholas Griggs (Mid-Ulster AC) winning the 3000m as well as many other brilliant performances.