Friday 12 February heralded the arrival of the IUAA Indoor Track & Field Championships. Trinity’s athletes rose at an ungodly hour to catch the bus from Trinity to Athlone IT. Trinity had an impressive turnout of 25 athletes competing, not to mention their numerous supporters who turned out for one of the biggest days on the university athletics calendar. The championships were held in the AIT International Arena for the fourth year running since it opened in 2013. The state of the art facility, worth €10 million, boasts an assortment of impressive amenities centred round an indoor 200m track, with a 60m straight cutting through the infield. The championships were sponsored by Dunnes Stores, Gourmet Fuel and Fyffes yet there no free bananas to be seen.
Tension was palpable among the colleges competing around the track. From Dublin, the opposing blue from DCU, the maroon of Trinity and yellow of the UCD Bears were dotted around the arena. While track athletes thundered around the outside lanes, on the infield shot-putters putted, pole-vaulters vaulted and high-jumpers roused the crowd by encouraging them to metronomically clap in time to their attempts to clear the bar. Bravado rang through the arena and with every clap from the crowd, the atmosphere mounted as the high-jumpers either cleared the bar with grace or came crashing down in shame.
With over 400 athletes competing in what was the 25th anniversary of the IUAA Indoor T&F Championships, 2016 was set to be a record breaking year. 7 IUAA records were broken throughout the day with stellar performances from DCU, UL and IT Carlow. Rio hopeful, Marcus Lawlor – running for IT Carlow, set the standard high with a new IUAA indoor record in the 200m in a time of 21.03. DCU dominated the medals table as usual, their elite repertoire of scholarship athletes never failing to perform.
Trinity athletes did not fail to impress either, the women’s team finished in 3rd place overall while the men’s team came in 12th place. Jemil Saidi, Trinity’s Men’s Track Captain, said he was “thrilled and happy with the team’s performance”.
Several of Trinity’s first years made their debut for the club, asserting their places on the team. TCD had two first year pole vaulters; Megan O’Connor and Conor Bermingham. O’Connor finished in a spectacular 2nd place in the women’s pole vault with a height of 2.45m and Bermingham, secured crucial points for the men’s team with a 5th place finish in a height of 4.0m.
Trinity’s debut athletes produced many great performances on both track and field, Ashleigh Heneghan finished in 4th place in the 1500m Walk in a time of 7:27:20s, Colin Comey – who has only been training for two weeks, finished 4th in the 200m heat in a time of 25.19s, Niamh Reynolds ran the second leg of the 4x200m relay and Kate Doherty, 1st year Engineering, had an incredible TCD debut finishing in 4th place in the 60mh with a pb of 9.14 and later on running the opening leg of the 4x200m relay in a time of 25.58s.
“As the day progressed the DUHAC girls continued to show their class with Sarah Fitzpatrick, a sports scholarship athlete and 2nd year Pharmacy student, taking 3rd for the TCD girls in the 3000m. Laura Frey made her 49th appearance for the club (which currently ranks her at no. 7 for ‘most appearances for Trinity College’) going on to win a silver medal in the Combined Events with a total of 2824 points and in the process setting a new TCD women’s record in the 8kg Weight for Distance,” said Saidi.
“The men’s team struggled to keep up with the women but still managed to pull off some impressive performances. Among these were Dean Power, 2nd year Science student, who broke the trinity 200m record with a time of 22.69s. Eoin Murphy ran a new pb of 1:59:70s in the men’s 800m semi-finals which helped him to secure a place in the final where he finished 5th overall. Conal Campion, one of Trinity’s oldest competitors with a total of 35 appearances, came 4th in the 35Ib weight for distance and Mael Lambert took first place in the 3000m semi-final in a time of 9:01:00.”
Star TCD athlete of the day, no doubt, was Phd student, Laura Frey. She placed 2nd overall in the Combined Events and was a key component of the 4x200m relay – moving the team from 4th to 3rd position.
The women’s 4x200m relay was Trinity’s highlight performance of the championships bringing an uplifting close to an eventful days competing. The relay team was made up of Kate Doherty, who ran a blistering first leg, Niamh Reynolds running a fantastic second leg, Catriona Twomey keeping the girls in contention with a brilliant 3rd leg and Laura Frey, who having just won the women’s 800m pentathlon, blazed down the back straight to bring the girl’s into 3rd place holding onto the medal position as she crossed the finishing line.
“The men’s relay team encountered some problem with injures, thus we’re on able to perform as well as we should have but all in all we gave it our best,” said Saidi. The team was made up of Kevin Migge, Colin Comey, Mael Lambert and Jemil Saidi, with Dean Power and Patrick O’Connor suffering injuries during the day.
Live coverage and commentary of all the day’s events was aptly provided by TCD alumnus Garret Dunne, and streamed live on Youtube to those who could not attend. Another Trinity graduate, Claire McGlynn, was on hand at ground level with live commentary to the arena.
The next event in the Intervarsity Track & Field calendar is the IUAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships which will take place on the 14th and 15th of April this year in the Santry Mortom stadium, Dublin. Athletes will have already begun preparation for the much anticipated event of the year which features the best of Irish University Athletics.