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Every Irish Medallist At The European Athletics Championships

Every Irish Medallist At The European Athletics Championships
By Rory Cassidy Updated

The 2022 European Athletics Championships saw the Irish team bring home two medals from Munich. Here, Balls.ie looks at Ireland's medal winners from 1958 right through to 2022.

Ronnie Delany

Ireland's first ever medal at the European Championships came in 1958 when Ronnie Delany won bronze for Ireland in Stockholm over 1500m. Two years earlier, the Arklow born athlete had won gold in Melbourne in the same event at the Olympic Games at the age of 21.

His third place finish in Stockholm ended a gruelling year for Delany, who raced nearly forty times that season.

Frank Murphy

It would be a further eleven years before an Irish athlete made the podium again. The 1969 championships were held in Piraeus, Greece and it was here that Frank Murphy won a silver medal. Murphy who competed for Clonliffe Harriers AC set a new Irish record to finish second in the 1500m crossing the line in 3.39.51. Leading into the championships he had spent six weeks out injured which hindered his preparation.

"I am of course thrilled to have won a silver but had I enjoyed the benefit of even one good race in the past month, I feel certain that I would have got there first," he said after the race.

Murphy died in 2017 following a battle with Parkinson's disease.

Eamonn Coghlan

Eamonn Coghlan won Ireland's third medal at the European Championships in Prague in 1978. The Dubliner won silver in the 1500m behind Britain's Steve Ovett running a new national record of 3.36.57. His performance was described by Peter Byrne in the Irish Times as being "quite the best performance of a career illuminated with some triumph."

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Coghlan would go on to taste more success in future years winning a gold medal at the European Indoor Championships in 1979 before taking his most famous victory at the 1983 World Championships in Helsinki over 5000m.

Sonia O'Sullivan

Sonia O'Sullivan won five medals at these championships during her decorated career. The first of these came in 1994 when the Cobh woman won Ireland's first-ever gold medal at the level in the 3000m in Helsinki. Four years later, O'Sullivan added to her gold medal haul winning both the 5000m and 10,000m titles in Budapest.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVz72TamgBI

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In 2002 O'Sullivan competed in her final European Championships in Munich. Having won silver at the Olympics two years earlier O'Sullivan would've backed herself to do another double, however it wasn't to be. O'Sullivan was beaten over 5000m by Marta Domínguez and 10,000m by Paula Radcliffe. Radcliffe ran a European record in that race, with O'Sullivan recording a national record of 30.47.69 which still stands to this day.

"It's a funny kind of feeling," O'Sullivan said after losing her 10,000m crown.

"It's not elation anyway. When you don't win the race, and somebody finishes 300 metres ahead of you, then you get a little bit concerned about why you're not up there.

"I'm glad I ran. Silver medals are not there to be thrown away. They're there to be collected. I had a chance to win and if I didn't I wanted the silver medal."

Mark Carroll

While Sonia won gold over 5000m in Budapest in 1998, Mark Carroll won bronze over the same distance. The Cork man won his first of two major championship medals in his career when he finished third in Hungary in what was described by Peter Byrne in the Irish Times as a "brave, defiant run". Carroll was only overtaken by two Spanish athletes in the home straight. He would later go onto win gold at the European Indoor Championships in 2000.

Derval O'Rourke

Derval O'Rourke won her first of two European Athletics Championship medals in 2006 in Gothenburg. O'Rourke won silver behind Susanna Kallur of Sweden in a new national record of 12.72s. At the time, Ian O'Riordan described the performance as "possibly the single greatest performance by an Irish athlete in the history of championship running."

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Four years later in Barcelona O'Rourke once again walked away with a silver medal breaking her national record again, clocking 12.65s, which still stands today.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnMLXwIoHn0

Robert Heffernan

Rob Heffernan also made the podium in Barcelona in 2010 winning bronze in the Men's 20k walk. The Cork man originally finished fourth but Russian walker Stanislav Emelyanov who had won gold was stripped of his gold medal in 2014 due to irregularities in his biological passport meaning Heffernan moved up a place.

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“There is no point in having regrets,” Heffernan said when presented by his medal by Sonia O'Sullivan.

“This means so much to me, to receive the medal here in Cork in the presence of my family and friends, because without the support of those people I couldn’t have done what I have done in the sport.”

Ireland's recent success at the European Athletics Championships

Mark English

English made his first podium at these championships since 2014. In Zurich that year English ran superbly as a 21-year-old running a fantastic home straight get himself amongst the medals.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-IuUzjmFOM

The following day in the Irish Times, Ian O'Riordan described the run as "beautifully stylish" comparing English to Sebastian Coe.

Fast forward to 2022 and going into the European 800m final, the Donegal man was heavily tipped for a medal. English positioned himself well throughout the race and kicked hard for home up the home straight, just having enough to hold on and win yet another bronze medal.

Ciara Mageean

Mageean won her first medal at the European Championships in Amsterdam in 2016 in a slow and tactical race finishing third. The Down athlete has since gone onto win a couple more senior major championship medals but Amsterdam was a great achievement given years of injury woes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Z3tpkWSJNc

"I’m ecstatic, with a little touch of disappointment, but I think that’s testament to an athlete who wants to do even better than I have," Mageean said after the race.

“It was a messy race, but that’s championship racing, and again, I’m a little annoyed I didn’t have a clean run down the back straight, because I know there’s more in me, and I’m not even tired. But that’s championship racing and I love it, getting in there, fighting for position.”

In Munich in 2022, Mageean delivered another inspiring performance to win European silver. She led from the front and when Scottish sensation Laura Muir moved up didn't panic. When Muir kicked 400m from home it was only Mageean who was able to go with her. She tracked her well, with Muir only getting away in the final 120m.

"I feel like I very rarely get emotional in athletics, but after the year I've had, I was going around there seeing all the tri-colours and ... I'm feeling a bit emotional. It's absolutely fantastic," Mageean told RTÉ after the race.

Thomas Barr

Tom Barr won Ireland's only medal at the European Championships in Berlin four years ago. The 400m Hurdler who had just missed out on an Olympic medal two years earlier in Rio finished in third at the German capital's Olympic Stadium, clocking 48.31s in the final.

Barr was delighted after the race when giving his reaction to RTÉ.

SEE ALSO: Efrem Gidey Was Quietly One Of The Breakout Irish Stars Of Munich 22


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