Gold medal for Tralee in Bahrain
Eoin O Carroll capped a great week for Tralee and Kerry at the International Children’s Games in Bahrain on Friday night July 2nd when he soared into the history books as Kerry’s first gold medal winner since participation began in 2005. In the final event of the athletics programme Eoin produced a flawless performance in his six long jumps to convincingly secure first place and the Long Jump Gold Medal of the 2010 Manama Games. It was a fitting climax to a week of events which saw the Tralee teams reach six finals, three in the swimming pool and three on the track.
Arriving in Bahrain on Monday night, June 28th from Amsterdam, the young athletes were taken to the University of Bahrain, their accommodation and dining centre for the week. They were accompanied by their coaches and managers, Siobhan O Nuallain, Ann Mc Gilton, John Brennan and Ger Mc Donnell and, being tired from their long journey, all settled in quickly. The following day teams were taken to their respective training sessions and familiarised themselves with their surroundings in the 36-38 degree heat, which required careful monitoring of sun cream and fluid intake. The opening ceremony took place indoors at the national stadium that evening in the presence of the Bahraini Prime minister and a marching military band, who presided over the entrance of teams from all over the world, including for the first time at the Games many new cities from the Middle East.
The real action got underway on Wednesday morning (June 30th) at the swimming pool and the Tralee trio of Brian O Sullivan, Laura O Shea and Ashling Dwyer set the tone for the rest of the squad with inspiring performances. Brian O Sullivan reached the finals of the 50 metre Butterfly AND the final of the 50 m Backstroke, where he would finish fifth in both. This was a fantastic achievement against 27 and 31 competitors respectively, with Brian beating his own personal best times in both semis and again in the final of the Butterfly event. This was the first time Tralee were represented in a swimming final. Laura O Shea knocked 5 secs off her PB in the 100 M Freestyle to finish 20th of 50 competitors, and followed with a creditable performance in the 50M Backstroke. Aislng Dwyer finished 20 of 50 competitors in her heat of the 100 m Freestyle.
Soccer and Track and Field events were organised at evening time after 6pm, due to the hot weather conditions. The soccer team played against Sopron of Hungary and were unlucky to lose 4 - 3. The team started their first game nervously and slowly and were 3-0 down at the half. But they roared back into the game in the second half, driven on by Conor Jordan, Jarred O Sullivan and Jay Murphy, Greg Horan led the way with two goals, while Conor Jordan hit the third late on. Their scheduled second game against Hong Kong did not take place, due to the late withdrawal of their opponents.
The Track and Field performed between 6pm and 8:30 pm under lights. Danny Pierse was first into action in the high jump and disappointingly for him bowed out at 1:55m, which was below his personal best. In the 100m heats Eoin O Carroll damaged an old niggling hip muscle injury pushing from the blocks and he failed to maintain his challenge.
Fearghail O Nuallain finished 5th and Brian Barry 4th in their 100m heats, which regrettably did not qualify them for the quarter finals. Clare Brennan finished a creditable 10th overall in her 800 m in a personal best time. Last up in the final heat of the 100m at 8:15pm was Louise O Connor and she came home in first place to qualify for the next round.
On Thursday (July 1st) Brian O Sullivan opened in the pool with another personal best in the 50 m Freestyle, to reach the final in seventh place overall, where he was placed eight. His appearance in the three finals was a tremendous achievement. Laura O Shea finished 18 of 35 in a new PB time in the 100 m Backstroke and Ashling Dwyer finished 20 of 52 swimmers in the 50 m Freestyle.
The soccer team lost their two remaining fixtures: 3-2 to Pesnica of Slovenia and 6-1 to a very strong Sparta side. Two goals from Greg Horan and Dylan Flynn, and fine displays from Ryan Downey, Jarred O Sullivan and Conor Jordan were responsible for a fine display which could easily have gone the way of Tralee. The game against Sparta will be remembered for three reasons-the technical superiority of Sparta, the exhilarating solo goal from Jarred O Sullivan, and the tremendous display of an overworked Jack Shortt in goal. Sparta would go out to eventual winners, Lanarkshire, in the Semi Final.
On the Track, Louise O Connor finished third in the 100m SF and performed well in the final to finish 7th. Eoin O Carroll in the opening rounds of the Long Jump qualified for the final in second place, with a jump of 6.42m
On Friday (July 2nd) Tralee’s involvement at the Games was in the 4 x 100m relay and in the Long Jump. The relay team of Brian Barry, Fearghail O Nuallain, Danny Pierse and Eoin O Carroll finished third in their Semi Final and a creditable fifth in the Final. The last event of the Games got underway with an excellent opening jump of 6.42m from Eoin O Carroll, which had him in pole position from the start. He followed with 6:52m, and his third was a new personal best of 6.65m. It was incredible to watch. He had to run in the final of the 4 X 100m relay Final in the middle of his jumps, but undaunted by his efforts in the relay, he returned to the Long Jump with three more outstanding jumps, the last of which was at 6.62m. It was a personal triumph for O Carroll who had to withdraw from last year’s Final in Athens due to injury, while in a leading medal position. Every member of the Kerry delegation was delirious with excitement as they headed to the closing ceremony at the University.
On Saturday the entire delegation enjoyed the delights of the Lost Paradise Water Theme Park- which had some of the best water slides imaginable- and later that evening, after some retail therapy at the largest shopping mall in Manama, prepared to leave the University for their flight home to Cork, via Amsterdam.
Away from the sporting activities John Byrne, head of delegation, and Michael Culloty, Chairman, Tralee ICG, were busily engaged in updating members of the ICG committee on the progress of Kerry’s plans and intention to bid for the hosting of the 2015 Games in Kerry. “This was an important aspect of these Games for us”, according to Mike, “as we are about to engage with the findings of our Feasibility Study, which will outline clearly our capacity to host and the cost/benefit analysis. The development of support among the committee members will be strategically important to the success of any bid we make in 2012 and we are pleased that we have made further progress on this front in Bahrain”.
In thanking everyone locally for their support to date he highlighted the fact that without such support among parents, local community and business, the opportunity to experience these Games would not be available to these young athletes. “It is to be hoped that our success at these Games, and most especially Eoin O Carroll’s first Gold Medal for the county, will be seen as communal and made possible by such support in the community. This was a shared achievement for all of us”. As stated by Michael Schumacker “the flowers of victory belong in many vases”.
Aisling Dwyer, Brian O Sullivan, Laura O Shea,
Eoin O Carroll, Brian Barry, Danny Pierse, Clare Brennan, Louise O Connor, Fearghal O Nuallain,
Jarred O Sullivan, Ryan Downey, Greg Horan, Jay Murphy, Conor Jordan, Dylan Flynn, Jack Shortt.