Leevale’s O’Donovan makes mark in Europe
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.”