DARRAGH McElhinney had plenty of reasons to smile after his performance at the AAI Indoor Games in Abbotstown.
The Bantry AC teenager (17) finished second in the 3000m – but as well as running a World U20 Championships qualifying standard, he also set a new national youth and junior indoor record with his time of 8:13.380.
The Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí student finished three seconds behind the winner John Travers.
Ideally, Darragh needs to run the 3000m qualifying standard of 8:15.000 twice to be guaranteed selection on the Irish team for the World U20 Championships in Finland in July, so running that time indoors so early in the year will take some pressure off him in the coming months.
Meanwhile, 2017 West Cork Youth Sports Star Laura Nicholson (17) impressed yet again as she won the women’s 3000m in 9:38.48, nine seconds ahead of Fiona Kehoe in second place. Laura is also targeting qualification for the world juniors in the summer and her time last weekend was three seconds off the qualifying standard (9:35.000) but she had to run the last 1000m on her own after the pacemaker dropped out.
In the lead-up to the AAI Games, both Darragh and Laura – who are part of Steven Macklin’s training group – won the senior races at the South Munster Schools’ Cross-Country Championships.
Next up for the West Cork duo will be the Armagh International Road Races on February 15th where Darragh will compete in a top-class 5km senior field while Laura will run in the senior women’s 3km event.