Letterkenny Athletic Club’s Ruairi Finnegan stormed to gold during yesterday’s final of the 1,500m at the European U-18 Youth Olympics in Trabson in Turkey.
The 17-year-old took up the running from the gun and never surrendered his lead and if anything looked stronger the longer the race went on. He breezed home to win in a time of 3:53.78. Finnegan was followed home by Italy’s Samuele Dini on 3:54.45, while James Lamswood from the United Kingdom took bronze with a time of 3:54.45.
In temperatures of 28 Celsius, the St Eunan’s College student finished his first lap in 1:02.27, while he was 2:08.56 at the 800-metre mark. He was 2:40.82 at 1,000 metres and then 3:10.26 at 1,200. Finnegan’s comfort in taking the race by the scruff of the neck was apparent when it’s considered he did not even have to match his qualifying time of 3:49.18.
It marks the conclusion of a fine month on the track for Finnegan, who also finished in 10th place, and fourth European, at the 1,500m final World Youth Olympics in Lille in France. He ran a time of 3:49.58 there, which shaved over a second off his previous fastest time of 4:51.18.
It could be a double celebration for Donegal in Turkey as Tir Chonaill Athletic Club’s Karl Griffin will take part in the final of the 800m tomorrow (Friday).
The Ballydevitt native qualified for the final having ran a time of 1:59.89 in the first of the three semi-finals in the sultry conditions of 33 Celsius.
With the top two getting a direct path to the final, Griffin finished third having only been overtaken in the final 150 metres by Saul Martinez of Spain and Moldova’s Artiom Cozacioc. Griffin’s time was a fine one as none of the other semi-finals was run at such a pace.