Longford's Cian McPhillips won gold in the 1,500m at European Under-20 Championships in a time of 3.46:55 on Saturday, despite his season only starting now after getting the small matter of the Leaving Cert out of the way and overcoming Covid-19.
Cian revealed after the race, "It was very tough. My season is only starting now due to school and getting Covid earlier in the year which kind of hampered my preparations coming into this championship. So I'm still actually a bit shocked that I managed to pull it off and it really makes me excited for what I can do over the coming weeks."
Cian’s family, parents Paddy and Laura and his sister Sarah watched the race on the live stream on their phones whilst attending the Connacht Juvenile Championships in Athlone IT.
And what about that 54-second gut busting final lap? Cian remarked, "I could actually see the shadows of the guys coming up behind me, so I was really pushing from 150 on.
"I was trying to control the rest of the race purely because I knew that in the 1,500m that final 200 is so, so important and in fairness to the others they put it right up to me and it was a real battle to the line. And luckily I had a bit of a head start that allowed me to get it at the end."
Coached by Joe Ryan, Ardagh's Cian spoke about how he needed to improve on his performance in the heat.
"In the heat, I really left myself with an awful lot to do. I was 8th without 300 to go and I really had to push myself all the way just to qualify.
"This time (the final), I was in Lane 1 at the start, so I really had to get out hard to avoid getting boxed in and luckily I was able to move out and I was able to position myself right on the leader's shoulder and that's what got me the gold."
Reflecting on Ireland's brilliant performance at the championship, Cian pointed out, "We really are producing some superstars in the past few years and it is only getting better with every passing championship.
"Obviously we have Rhasidat Adeleke; she is worth two or three gold nearly every championship and now we've got some new and exciting guys coming up in the distance events and the sprint events and decathlon as well. We are really becoming a proper team that is capable of challenging the big names in Europe."
Longford Athletics Club now boasts a European Champion in an exciting year for the club with the development of their new indoor facility continuing at great pace at St Mel’s College. It should open in November for their 250-plus membership.
Class act Cian McPhillips (Longford Athletics Club) has won the 1500 metres gold medal for Ireland at the European U-20 Athletics Championships in Tallinn, Estonia on Saturday.
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