“I couldn’t think straight. It was just so crazy”

NEWLY-crowned European Under 18 Women’s 200m champion Rhasidat Adeleke feels Irish athletics is certainly on the up.

The Tallaght Athletic Club star produced a stunning performance that saw her clock a new personal best time of 23.52 seconds on her way to gold in Gyor, Hungary last weekend.

Rhasidat Adeleke gold

After qualifying from her heat in second place on Friday with a time of 23.90, the 15-year-old competitor continued on to win her semi-final on Saturday morning with a new personal best time of 23.77.

Later that evening she reacted quicker than ever before from the blocks to establish a lead that she maintained all the way to finish line.

“I haven’t taken it in yet,” Adeleke told The Echo. “I’m European Under 18 champion and it’s so cool. I have that title and I just can’t believe it.

“My main goal was a medal. I was just focused on getting a medal at first because I wasn’t too confident going into it, but to come out with gold was great.

“I was really calm. I was just like, ‘run your fastest cause there’s nothing else you can do’.

“I had to make sure I got a really good bend because I knew if I got a bend and I was leading for the first 100m I’d be able to keep my pace and pull through.

“I felt like I did [win the race] but it wasn’t definite until the camera man was like focusing on me that it was like ‘Oh my God, I’ve won’.

“I couldn’t think straight. It was just so crazy. I just started crying.”

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Gyor has proven a happy hunting ground for Adeleke who picked up silver in the European Youth Olympics 200m there almost a year ago.

Her win on Saturday helped mark a super outing for Team Ireland who carded four medals in total, including a double gold for Sarah Healy in the 1500m and 3000m as well as an 800m silver for Sophie O’Sullivan while Patience Jumbo-Gula came home fifth in the 100m Final.

It was enough to see Ireland emerge from these championships seventh on the medal table.

“Irish girls actually topped the medal table out of all the 52 European countries and that is unreal,” said Adeleke. “We’ve never accomplished that before and the boys are coming up too.

“There’s more sprinters coming as well because Ireland is usually seen as a distance country, but sprinters are coming up now.

“Even at championships, like All-Irelands you see sprinters getting really fast times and everyone is just really improving. Irish athletics in on a high right now.”

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Adeleke has hardly had time to relish her achievement having returned home from Hungary for just one day before flying out to Finland for the World Under 20 Championships for which she is part of the Ireland 4x100m relay team.

And the Tallaght girl believes this relay squad has the potential to make a final and even figure among the medals.

“Two years ago they came fifth in the final and we have a much faster team now,” she pointed out.

“And the time we ran this year [in Belgium] would have got us third [at the last championships], so we’re hoping for a medal.

“We got 44.12 [in Belgium]. And we can definitely go faster because that was our first relay as a team and the baton changes weren’t great so we can definitely improve on that,” she insisted.

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