DARRAGH McElhinney enhanced his growing reputation even more with his latest spell-binding performance.
The Glengarriff man (21) SMASHED the 44-year-old national U23 5000m record when he ran 13:17.17 to finish fifth at the IFAM outdoor meeting in Oordegem, Belgium recently.
He took over NINE seconds off the previous record (13:26.5), set in Brussels in 1978 by legendary Irish athlete John Treacy.
This is not the first time that McElhinney has broken a long-standing Treacy record; in early 2017 the then West Cork teen ran 8:18.88 to better Treacy’s Irish outdoor youth 3000m record that was set in 1974.
UCD AC athlete McElhinney has been in sparkling form in recent times, opening his outdoor season with a new personal best in the 1500m, 3:39.79, while competing in Germany.
His latest record-setting 5000m is also notable because it sees him jump up to seventh on the Irish all-time list, ahead of Irish distance legends as Eamonn Coghlan, Ray Flynn and Marcus O’Sullivan.
On the Running in Cork Blog, Southern Star athletics reporter John Walshe highlighted the scale of McElhinney’s performance in Belgium last weekend.
‘It’s interesting to note that the average age of the six runners ahead of McElhinney – Alistair Cragg (13:03.53), Mark Carroll (13:03.93), Frank O’Mara (13:13.02), John Doherty (13:14.17), Brian Fay (13:16.52) and John Treacy (13:16.81) – was 27 when they achieved their fastest times whereas Darragh only turned 21 last November, the month before he finished second in the European U23 cross-country and led the Irish team to the gold medal,’ Walshe noted.
McElhinney’s main focus in the outdoor season will be the European senior championships in Munich in August. When he received the Cork City Sports Athletics Person of the Year Award for 2021 at the River Lee Hotel recently, he explained why he is prioritising the Europeans ahead of the World Athletics Championships in Oregon in July.
‘At the start of the year we sat down and decided that I would be a lot more competitive at a European senior stage than on a world stage. As I’m still under 23, the aim is to make a European final this summer and then hopefully come back next summer and the summer after for the Paris Olympics with a bit of experience gained and to be fitter and stronger than I’m now,’ McElhinney said – and after his latest mesmerising run, he is right on track for the Europeans this summer.