Super Sophie secures Ulster hat-trick as young Olympians star at Mary Peters track
Olympian YAC sprint sensation, Sophie Parlour, secured a golden hat-trick of titles on a superb day for the club at the recent Ulster and Northern Ireland Under 14-17 Track & Field Championships at the Mary Peters Track.
The Thornhhill College student credits her recent return to the sport from injury to the superb work of Olympian coaches, Patrick and Martin O’Donnell, but she went a long way to repaying their faith with a blistering display to capture the U16 Girls’ 80m Hurdles gold as well as the U16 Girls’ 100m and 200m gold.
And she wasn’t alone as team-mates Ellen O’Donnell, Ellie McMicheals, Eoghan O’Donnell, Aine Carlin, Bonnie Gillard and Jimmy Doherty all excelled on what proved a superb display from Olympian athletes.
But there was not disputing top billing as Culmore Road native, Parlour, proved just why she is so highly rated.
Sophie’s first event at the championships was the hurdles, remarkably only the second time Sophie had competed in that particular sprint discipline. After a hesitant start, her ever improving technical prowess came to the fore as she moved through the field, creating clear daylight between herself and the other competitors with every hurdle. In the end, Sophie was the clear winner in an incredible time of 12.47secs, shaving almost 0.5 seconds off her previous best time to claim the gold medal and mantle of Ulster and NI champion.
But rather than a finale, that proved only the beginning of a memorable afternoon’s work. Next up was the 100m and while the hurdles was a reasonably close affair, there was absolutely no doubt here. Sophie blasted out of the blocks, putting clear distance on the opposition who could not come close to her power and speed as she claimed another gold in a scintillating time of 12.58 seconds, almost 0.3 seconds ahead of her nearest rival.
Two down and one to go with Sophie arguably saving her best for last. Repeating her earlier feats, this time at 200m, Sophie simply decimated the opposition, clocking nearly a full one second ahead of second place in an unbelievable time of 26.18secs to claim her third gold and a hat-trick of Ulster and NI Champion titles.
Elsewhere Ellen O’Donnell (U15 Girls) was hugely unlucky not to add to the club’s medal tally as she equipped herself tremendously well in the 250m Hurdles, an event she was new to, coming home fourth overall. Indeed, she was even more unfortunate in the Javelin where she again finished fourth, agonisingly missing out on bronze by a mere 6 centimetres!
Ellie McMicheals also just missed out on a bronze by mere centimetres in the U16 Girls’ High Jump, clearing a fantastic 1.35m to come fifth overall.
Aine Carlin was contesting a new event in the form of the U15 Girls’ 250m Hurdles but produced an excellent display to come home a fabulous fifth. Aine also performed very well in the Long Jump, claiming a personal best in the process.
Eoghan O’Donnell meanwhile also claimed a marvellous fifth in the U14 Boys’ Javelin while Bonnie Gillard improved her personal best in the U14 Girls’ 80m to place a eighth overall. Jimmy Doherty also equipped himself extremely well in the U15 Boys’ 80m bagging himself a new personal best in a performance he can build on.
“Every single one of our athletes gave it their all, we certainly could not ask for any more,” said a delighted Patrick O’Donnell, “We are so proud of every single one of the young athletes!
“We at the club would just like to thank everyone involved in this fantastic club for all they do, not just at the weekend, but throughout the year and especially this year. It has been difficult for everyone and sport in its many facets has been a lifeline to most in more ways than one. So our sincere thanks and gratitude goes to all the athletes and coaches and parents for their continued efforts and support.”