Terrific Travers raises the roof
With grown men banging the blue-boarded track and a raucous crowd standing on their feet as John Travers broke eight minutes for the 3,000m, it truly was Super Sunday at the Woodie’s DIY National Indoor Championships in Athlone in a day to remember for Irish athletics aficionados.
It looked like the novelty had worn off on Ciarán Ó Cathain’s international arena on Saturday with a relatively sparse crowd and a lack of that intangible buzz, but Fionnuala Britton’s comprehensive win in the women’s 1500m, the first event yesterday, was only a taste of things to come.
Britton, under the tutelage of Chris Jones, has managed to find an extra set of gears of late and, with close to a full crowd in attendance, she efficiently stirred the crowd out of first gear as she ran a big personal best of 4:13.96 knocking nine seconds off her previous best indoor time.
“I didn’t want to look over my shoulder on the last lap,” said the Kilcoole AC athlete who is training meticulously to break into the top tier of world athletics.
“I didn’t want anyone to pass me down the straight. I love it now.”
Kerry Harty (Newcastle) finished second in 4:16.36 edging Laura Crowe (An Riocht) in 4:16.48.
John Coghlan (MSB), son of Eamonn, ran sub four minutes for the mile in America last year to join an illustrious club of father-son duos to break that famous mark but has since struggled to recapture that form.
Kevin Maunsell (Clonmel) boldly took an early 50m lead in the men’s 1500m. Coghlan set about the task of reeling him in with Eoin Everard (KCH) and Joe Warne (Doheny) in single file behind as the rest of the pack seemed to have gotten lost chasing another hare.
Coghlan held off Everard on the last lap and crossed the line with arms outstretched, bringing his index finger to his mouth to silence the doubters – his own internal voice visually chief amongst them.
“That’s my first ever medal,” in senior competition said Coghlan who didn’t know his father had never won a national indoor 1500m title.
John Travers (Donore Harriers), studying in AIT, has become the poster boy of Ó Cathain’s coliseum and was looking to head the big field assembled at the start line of the 15-lap event.
As each lapped passed of the main act, the banging of the track got louder and the men and women edged out of their seats into standing as the European standard was on the cusp of Travers’ multi-coloured spikes.
“With three laps to go the hair was standing on the back of my neck,” said the Drimnagh distance hero.
The normally cool Ó Cathain went from stately to fanatic in the closing stages describing the atmosphere as “fantastic”. Darting past the back markers on the last lap, Travers stopped the clock at 7:58.54 to the delight of the vociferous crowd.
Kelly Proper (Ferrybank) was delighted she “kept her cool” between events winning the 60m and 200m – 7.45 and 23.84 respectively – in quick succession, making it a hat-trick of titles having won the long jump in 5.91m on Saturday.
An athlete who never loses his cool is Mark English (Letterkenny). The final act was the men’s 800m and English’s composed 1:48.44 dropping his front-running clubmate Darren McBrearty brought a fitting close to the drama. What a difference a day makes.