Ray Flynn and Cian McPhillips pictured in 2019 at Longford Athletic Club’s ‘Ray Flynn Mile’ event in St Mel’s College. Ray is one of 17 Irish athletes to have ever won a medal at the European Indoor Athletics Championships with his second place run in the 1500m in 1980
Cian McPhillips became the fourth Longford athlete to compete for Ireland at the European Indoor Championships with his recent strong showing in the 800m.
Torun in Poland hosted the 36th edition of the event since its inception in 1970 and Longford has now been represented by a quartet of esteemed middle-distance runners.
Ray Flynn ran in the 1500m in both 1979 and 1980 securing silver in the latter with a time of 3:38.50 at Sindelfingen, West Germany.
He is one of 17 Irish athletes to have won a medal at the European Indoors over the years. Had he not been US-based, Ray would certainly have achieved more championship appearances and medals.
The American indoor scene was thriving in the 1980s with Ray to the fore in big races such as the Wanamaker Mile at New York’s Millrose Games.
Enda Fitzpatrick has the Longford record for having appeared at the most European Championships with four.
In fact, Enda ran at the World Indoors before he competed at the Europeans when he ran in the 1500m at the inaugural world games in 1985 aged just 19.
His fourth European Indoors came in 1990 when he competed in the 3000m and, three weeks later, Enda showed his range of talent when he wore the Irish singlet at the World Cross Country Championships 12km race in France.
Aisling Molloy also represented Ireland at the 1990 European Indoors in Glasgow in her event of the 800m. She finished an impressive 6th place in the final with 2:05.98.
This was Aisling’s second championship, having competed at The Hague in 1989.
One of Ireland’s leading female athletes during that period, Aisling also qualified for and ran at the 1991 World Indoor Championships.
Cian has now joined this select group and hopefully we will see him ‘toe the line’ in Istanbul at the 2023 staging of the now biennial event. Other track and cross-country championships await in the meantime.
We also hope that it is not too long a wait for the next Longford athlete to join the group!
Some coverage in the past two weeks has highlighted the exciting nature of indoor athletics as was witnessed in Torun.
The 200m-sized track certainly makes for an entertaining spectacle along with the close proximity of the field events adding to the overall watch.
Last week’s championship saw great performances by some of the world’s top athletes such as Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Femke Bol and Armand Duplantis. This summer’s Tokyo Olympics is set up to be a good one.