Laura first champion on new Athlone track

Olympian Laura Reynolds wrote her own unique piece of history last Saturday when she became the first National Senior champion to be crowned at the fabulous new international athletics arena at Athlone IT when she retained her 3,000m walk title at the Woodies DIY Athletics Ireland Senior Indoor Championships.

Olympian Laura Reynolds wrote her own unique piece of history last Saturday when she became the first National Senior champion to be crowned at the fabulous new international athletics arena at Athlone IT when she retained her 3,000m walk title at the Woodies DIY Athletics Ireland Senior Indoor Championships.

Making her first competitive appearance since her magnificent 20th place at the London Olympics on the fast new Mondo track, Laura was an easy winner of the Woodies DIY AAI Indoor 3000m Walk in 13.05.84. This was Laura’s third successive National Senior Indoors title and by far the easiest of the three.

Two years ago in the Belfast Odyssey, Laura won a very narrow victory after a titanic struggle with the young Waterford girl Kate Veale who later than year went on to win the World Youths title. Last year the pair fought it out again but this time the Leitrim athlete had more to spare.

This year the week began with Laura officially becoming ireland’s top female walker following the retirement of 2009 World 20K silver medalist Olive Loughnane and ended with an easy victory in Athlone.

Laura led the race all the way to come home in 13.05.84. Second position went to Monaghan’s Alicia Boylan in 15.30.07 while third finisher was unattached walker Rebecca Collins in 15.56.86. Fourth place went to New Zealand guest walker Alana Barber in 16.12.04.

The Senior Mens’ title went as expected to Robbie Heffernan who has dominated this event for the past 14 years in a time of 19.13.03 which is outside his personal best of 18.51.46. However Leevale team mate Luke Hickey who finished fourth in 20.56.55 broke Colin Griffin’s twelve year old National Junior Indoor 5000m Walk record of 21.01.41 set in Nenagh in February 2001.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD, officially opened Ireland’s first world-class indoor athletics arena at Athlone Institute of Technology last Friday in a ceremony attended by legendary Irish athletes, Dr Ronnie Delaney, Senator Eamonn Coghlan, John Treacy, and Ireland’s first female Olympian, Maeve Kyle, the Taoiseach declared the new €10m AIT International Arena open for business.

Speaking at the opening, President of AIT and Athletics Ireland, Professor Ciarán Ó Catháin described the International Arena as a “theatre of dreams”, saying it would become: “the springboard for new Irish sporting heroes and legends, names that will enter the lexicon of greatness.”

Ireland needs sporting heroes, he said, winners and champions who will provide necessary inspiration for the country. That will only come about through “putting in place the infrastructure that will enable young people to fulfill their dreams. It’s about creating an environment and a culture that is deeply committed to the pursuit of excellence.”

Primary Schools Sports Hall

The South Leitrim semi final will be held in Ballinamore Sports Hall on Tuesday next, February 26, commencing at 10 am. Interested schools which have not yet done so should confirm participation with Leitrim Sports Partnership without delay. The competition is organised by Leitrim Sports Partnership and Leitrim County Board AAI and the County Final will be held the following week with the National Regional in Sligo Sports Complex on Thursday March 14.

The Aviva Connacht Schools Cross Country Championships is being held this Wednesday (20th) in Sligo at 12 noon while entries are now closing for the Connacht AAI Underage Indoor Championships taking place in Athlone on Sunday March 3.

Award for Dearbhaile

Ahnother Mohill & District AC walker was honoured for her achievements last Saturday night when Dearbhaile Beirne was presented with her Tipperary Crystal Athletics Ireland Juvenile 2012 Star Award for Leitrim at the Tullamore Court Hotel. Dervla was presented with her award by Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring, TD.