ATHLETICS | Blackrock AC’s Gina blazes to gold at European U20 Championships
18-year-old ends Ireland’s 12-year wait for a European U20 medal!
Blackrock AC’s Gina Akpe-Moses secured Ireland’s first gold medal at the European U20 Athletics Championships since 2005 when she stormed to victory in the 100m in Grosseto, Italy on Friday afternoon.
Gina secured her place in the final alongside teammate Ciara Neville — the first time that Ireland had two runners in an U20 100m final since 1979 — by finishing second in a time of 11.56 seconds in her semi-final on Thursday morning.
Running in lane five, Gina followed that up with a commanding run in the final, leaving Germany’s Keshia Kwadwo and Ingvild Meinseth of Norway in her wake to win in a time of 11.71 seconds and end Ireland’s 12-year wait for a medal since Colin Costello’s win in the 1500m.
As well as banishing that hoodoo, Gina becomes the first Irish athlete to win a gold medal in a major sprint event. She went close last year, winning a silver at the European Youth Championships where she was, ironically, beaten by Kwadwo.
“It was amazing, I am so, so, so happy,” said Gina afterwards. “I can’t believe it. The start was okay, I wasn’t out first but I knew I could get them and the last 30 I had to hit it hard and I was catching up with them.
“I could see them on the side of my eye, and I knew I just had to keep pushing to get to the finishing line and just made sure it was the run of my life.”
Born in Nigeria, Gina moved to Ireland when she was three years of age and was a member of Dundalk St Gerard’s AC before making the switch to Blackrock AC.
The 18-year-old moved to the UK with her family in 2014, and runs with Birmingham-based Birchfield Harriers, but represents Blackrock AC at provincial and national competitions.