ATHLETICS | Local trio have hit the headlines with their performances

Gina, Kate and Patience have all starred in European competition

Kate O’Connor and Gina Akpe-Moses pictured at Dublin Airport with another Dundalk woman, Georgina Drumm of Mountpleasant AC, who is the current president of Athletics Ireland, on their return from the European U20 Championships in Italy. PICTURE: SPORTSFILE

Local sports fans have been particularly impressed in recent days by the outstanding performances of three young Dundalk women representing Ireland in European athletics championship competition.

Gina Akpe-Moses

Eighteen-year-old Gina Akpe-Moses, a member of both local club Blackrock AC and English club Birchfield Harriers — and formerly of Dundalk St Gerard’s AC, was the first to hit the headlines on Friday, July 21st, when she sped to victory in the 100m final at the European U20 Championships in Grosseto, Italy.

Gina Akpe Moses pictured after winning the 100m gold medal at the European U20 Championships

Gina clocked a time of 11.71 seconds in the final when running into a headwind, but in the previous day’s semi-final she equalled her personal best of 11.56 in more favourable conditions.

Two days later, Akpe-Moses helped the Irish team to fourth place in the final of the 4x100m relay. She will still be in the U20 age group next year and is already looking forward to competing in the 2018 World U20 Championships.

Kate O’Connor

On the same day, 16-year-old Kate O’Connor of Dundalk St Gerard’s AC finished in eighth place in the heptathlon at the European U20 Championships.

St Gerard’s AC’s Kate O’Connor

Her total score of 5759 points was a new personal best by a huge margin and is the second highest score ever recorded by an Irish woman of any age.

O’Connor can justifiably expect even more success in next year’s World U20 Championships and in the 2019 European U20 Championships, as the World and European U20 Championships are staged in alternate years.

She is also eligible to represent Northern Ireland in the Commonwealth Games and will be a strong contender for a place on the team in next year’s edition of this competition which takes place in Australia.

Patience Jumbo-Gula

On Tuesday, July 25th, it was the turn of 16-year-old Patience Jumbo Gula, also of Dundalk St Gerard’s AC, to deliver a superb performance in the 100m.

She claimed a magnificent bronze medal in the European Youth Olympic Festival — a continental championship for the U17 age group — in Győr, Hungary.

Patience Jumbo-Gula on her way to a bronze medal in the 4x100m relay at the European Youth Olympic Festival

Jumbo Gula went to Hungary with a personal best of 12.07 seconds, but then proceeded to clock 11.94 in her heat, 11.74 in her semi-final and a wind-assisted 11.59 in the final.

Jumbo Gula rounded off a great week last Saturday when she claimed a second EYOF bronze medal with the Irish 4x100m relay team. She is now looking forward to competing at the highest level in the U18 and U20 age groups in the next three years.

O’Connor, who hails from Belfry Gardens, and Jumbo Gula, who is from Mullaharlin Park, have both just completed Transition Year in St Vincent’s Secondary School, while Akpe-Moses, who lived in College Manor for several years, attended the same school up to her Junior Certificate in 2014.

She then moved home to England, where she is currently an Applied Science student in Birmingham Metropolitan College.

Sports fans throughout Ireland will be hoping that these three Dundalk girls will continue to enjoy great success in the years to come.

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