Double All-Ireland gold for promising Bandon athlete

July 25th, 2017 8:00 AM

By Kieran McCarthy

Top of the podium: Bandon AC's Laura Nicholson won a gold medal in the All-Ireland U18 1500m at the Irish Life Health Juvenile T&F Championships last weekend.

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LAURA Nicholson has been in record-breaking form in recent times.

Last weekend the talented Bandon AC athlete (16) won the All-Ireland U18 1500m title that quickly followed on from her fantastic victory in the All-Ireland U18 2000m steeplechase the previous weekend when she set an Irish youth (U18) record.

That day Laura won gold in 6:58.38, an outstanding time that put her number 20 on the current European U18 rankings, only eight seconds off eighth place.

That win also saw her selected to represent Ireland in the steeplechase at the Celtic International T&F Championships on August 5th.

The Bandon Grammar School student also set a PB (4:36) when winning the women's B 1500m event at the British Milers Club Grand Prix lately, too, breaking her previous PB (4:41) set in Belgium last month.

These are busy and very exciting times for this Bandon teenager.

‘It's gone very well the last few weeks, winning the All-Irelands and setting the Irish youth record,' Laura said.

‘I wasn't aiming for any time in that steeplechase race, I just raced it as normal and when I came over the line and saw the time, I was shocked. It was a big PB, I was really happy.'

Laura skipped the schools' season in April and May to focus on training and it's paying off. Since April she is coached by Steven Macklin, Athletics Ireland National Junior Endurance Coach (who also looks after Darragh McElhinney), and it's a move that is already reaping rewards.

'I'm looking forward to the Celtic championships, that will be my sixth time representing Ireland,' she said.

‘I finished second and won silver in the steeplechase at them last year so I'd be hopeful that I could be in the reckoning for a medal again, fingers crossed.

‘I've also competed at the SIAB schools' internationals in 2015 and 2016, and in the schools' internationals cross-country as well.'

Currently impressing in the 1500m and 2000m steeplechase, Laura hasn't ruled out competing in longer distances in the future – but for now she's concentrating on the shorter distances.

‘I started in athletics when I was ten years old and I did a bit of everything,' she explained.

‘I used to do multi events when I was younger so I have the technique for the steeplechase and that makes it a lot easier for the jumps.

‘I'm focussed on the distance running at the moment.'

After the Celtic International Laura will take a break before switching her attention towards the cross-country season.

Another promising young West Cork athlete, Laura will hope to target the world junior championships next year and the 2019 European junior championships are also a possibility if she stays on the right track.

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