Four Irish athletes honoured at Sportswoman of the Year Awards
Irish athletics had a very successful 2019 and this was reflected in the fact that no less than four Irish athletes were honoured at The Irish Times Sport Ireland Sportswoman of the Year Awards, which were held at the Shelbourne Hotel recently. Phil Healy was first out of the blocks winning the Sportswoman of the Month for January 2019 for the second year running for her 400m win at the Vienna International Indoor Meet ahead of European and World medallists Lissane De Whitte and Eilidh Doyle. Her hopes of building on that form were hit in April when she broke a bone in her foot, but she got herself back in action and is now targeting Olympic qualification when the new season gets under way. Hot on her heels was Co. Down runner, Ciara Mageean who won the Sportswoman of the Month Award for February after a sparkling start to the 2019 season saw her set a new Irish indoor mile record of 4:28.31 in Boston.She went on to take two seconds off her 1,500m record before winning bronze in the 1,500m at the European Indoor Championships in Glasgow. In addition, she became the first Irish female runner to reach a World Championship 1,500m final since Sonia O’Sullivan in 1997, setting a new personal best in the process at the championships in Doha in October. That race, described as the best 1,500m women’s championship race in history, was won by the phenomenal Dutch runner Sifan Hassan, in 3:51.96. Dundalk athlete Kate O’Connor and Rhasidat Adeleke from Tallaght were joint winners of the Sportswoman of the Month Award for July.O’Connor’s award was in recognition of her silver medal in the heptathlon at the European U20 Championships in Sweden. In doing so, the 18-year-old from St Gerard’s Athletics Club became the first Irish woman to medal at any level in the event. En route to silver, she produced personal bests in the javelin, the high jump and the 200m and was assured a medal going into the final event the 800m. A battling third place finish clinched her silver behind gold medallist Maria Vicente of Spain who amassed just 22 points more. Adeleke returned from the European Youth Olympics in Baku, Azerbaijan with two gold medals, winning the 100m in 11.70 seconds and following it up two days later with victory in the 200m in a time of 23.92 seconds. She was the only runner in the field to break the 24 second mark. Adeleke, who is a Leaving Cert student at Presentation Community College Terenure, is reported to be attracting the attention of American universities looking to secure her on scholarship. For now, she is focused on her Leaving Cert and the World Juniors in Kenya next July.
Deirdre Veldon, deputy editor, Irish Times; Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross; joint award winners for July, Kate O’Connor and Rhasidat Adeleke; and Dr Una May, Sport Ireland.
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