Lee­vale’s O’Dono­van makes mark in Eu­rope

Irish Examiner - County - - Sport - John Wal­she

It may have been just over a year since Char­lie O’Dono­van re­ceived the Cork City Sports Ath­let­ics Per­son of the Month award but dur­ing the in­terim, the Lee­vale ath­lete’s star has risen sig­nif­i­cantly.

This time around the 18year-old was hon­oured for the month of Septem­ber dur­ing which he was an im­pres­sive win­ner of the 3000m at the Euro­pean Ju­nior Clubs Cup in Leiria, Por­tu­gal.

Run­ning the dis­tance on the track for the first time, he crossed the line in 8:56.41, mak­ing him the only Lee­vale win­ner at the com­pe­ti­tion.

“I had been mainly con­cen­trat­ing on the 1500m with a few 800m but as this com­pe­ti­tion came in Septem­ber the 3000m suited the best as with cross-coun­try train­ing my en­durance was high,” said the Coláiste Chriost Ri ath­lete.

“The race started off at a very easy pace so I picked it up af­ter two laps and opened a gap and then kept push­ing on and I was de­lighted to pick up max­i­mum points for Lee­vale.”

Af­ter a suc­cess­ful cross­coun­try sea­son which saw him fin­ish fourth in the Al­lIre­land Schools, O’Dono­van then trans­ferred his form to the track, re­sult­ing in some ex­cit­ing per­for­mances.

These cul­mi­nated in his vic­tory over 1500m at the Ir­ish Schools in Tul­lam­ore when he de­feated the cross-coun­try cham­pion Fin­tan Ste­wart by just 0.39 of a sec­ond when record­ing a time of 4:04.53.

“That was prob­a­bly the most im­por­tant race of the sea­son. My­self and my coach Ken Na­son had a plan and it was ‘the last move wins’. Even on the day I had my doubts, but I trusted Ken and I tracked ev­ery move and made my last move with about 80m to go.

“It was a huge mo­ment for my club and for my school.”

Only three male ath­letes from Cork in the past 40 years have won 1500m at se­nior level at the Ir­ish Schools over what is re­garded as the blue rib­bon event of track and field.

Two races in Eng­land saw O’Dono­van gain­ing the Euro­pean U20 qual­i­fy­ing stan­dard, vir­tu­ally book­ing him a place on the team for Italy in July.

Hav­ing tasted Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion the pre­vi­ous year at U18 grade, the move up to the ju­nior ranks was tough.

“It was a big step from the year be­fore and I will ad­mit I was slightly dis­ap­pointed I didn’t make the fi­nal but I held my rank­ings and was happy with the ex­pe­ri­enced gained.”

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