Glengarriff teen will represent Ireland at U20 championships
BY KIERAN McCARTHY
DARRAGH McElhinney reckons he needs to run faster than he ever has before to qualify for the 1500m final at next week's European U20 Athletics Championships in Italy.
The Glengarriff teenager feels he will have to improve his personal best (PB) of 3:48.05 by two seconds in next Thursday's heat to qualify for the European final â and he's confident that he's on course to do just that.
It's worth remembering that Darragh, the current Celtic Ross West Cork Youth Sports Star, is still only 16 years old and will be eligible again for these U20 European championships again in two years time when he's 18.
âI ran three minutes and 48 seconds at the end of May, I think I'll have to be in the 3:46 territory to make the final and I'm fairly confident that I'm in the right shape at the moment to hit that time,' Darragh said.
âWhen it comes to the occasion you'll always find that extra something in those last 200 metres when you have a sniff of making a final. You'll dig deep and find something.
âI'll have to go to a higher level than I have before but I think I can do that.'
The West Cork teenager has had a very consistent season to date, continuing on his upward curve under coach Steven Macklin, and the European U20s offer him the ideal chance to test himself against the best in Europe, not that he'll be intimidated given his impressive times this year. His 3:48.05 is the third quickest European U18 1500m this year.
âThe European juniors will be a step-up from the level of championships that I have been competing at so I have tried to race a few other big track meets, like in Belgium, to get a feel for it,' explained Darragh who was on a training camp in Spain last week.
âMy first aim was to qualify, which I did, and qualifying alone would have meant a good season.
âI hope to qualify out of my heat. The top four from the two heats go into the final and the four fastest losers than make the 12 in the final. That's the initial aim, to get to the final and I think I'm in with a fairly good shout of achieving that if the race went well.
âIf I get to the final, there would be nothing expected of me, I wouldn't be one of the big hitters. I'd want to give myself every chance and do myself justice.'
Ahead of the Europeans, Darragh defended his U17 schools' international 1500m title at the SIAB Schools' International T&F Championships in Santry, Dublin last Saturday, the ideal preparation ahead of next week's challenge in Grosseto, Italy,