BY DARAGH BROWNE
DARRAGH McElhinney produced the race of his life in the men’s 3,000m final at the European Athletics Indoor Championships on Sunday.
Running in his first major indoor track final, McElhinney showed experience beyond his years to power home to a superb fourth place in a personal best time of 7:44.72.
The 22-year-old Glengarriff man settled comfortably in the middle of the pack from the gun before an injection of pace from Jakob Ingebrigsten at the 2000m mark quickly stretched the field, with the Norwegian’s unrelenting surge ultimately taking him all the way to gold.
McElhinney meanwhile made a surge of his own, making up six places over the last 800m with his customary late kick showing no ill effects from yesterday’s qualifying round.
Today’s fourth place finish represented another huge leap forward for the Cork athlete and his sights will now be firmly set on going shoulder-to-shoulder with Europe’s elite in pursuit of the podium position that was so agonisingly close today.
The 3000m medals went the way of Jakob Ingebrigtsen (NOR) 7:40.32 NR, Adel Mechall (ESP) 7:41.75 SB, and Elzan Bibic (SRB) 7:44.03.
— Kieran McCarthy (@KieranMcC_SS) March 5, 2023
Meanwhile, the Irish 4x400m relay team of Sophie Becker, Sharlene Mawdsley, Cliodhna Manning, and Phil Healy led out team Ireland in this evening’s session, finishing fifth in the 4x400m final in a time of 3:32.61.
Sophie Becker (53.70) exploded from the blocks to claim a great position at the break but was hampered throughout the final 200m which would see her reach the 400m changeover in fifth place. Sharlene Mawdsley (51.15) ran a superb leg to pick up a place before handing over to Cliodhna Manning (54.39) who also rallied to regain a position lost in her first 200m. Phil Healy (53.37) battled bravely to bring the Irish team home ahead of team GB with a dipped finish on the line.
The team were roared on by their relay teammates Miriam Daly and Niamh Murray who also played an important role in preparations for today’s final. The medals would ultimately go the way of Netherlands 3:25.66 CR, Italy 3:28.61 NR, and Poland 3:29.31.