Top local athletes shine on the world stage
By Tessa van Heerden
We Irish are passionate about sport, as sport plays a key role in the social and cultural life of our Irish communities. This was evident in the support two local guys received while competing at the World Championships recently.
Athletics Ireland club members Fergus Cosgrove, Navan AC and David O’Hare, Glenmore AC competed in the sixth World Championships in Down Syndrome Athletics in Nymburk, Czech Republic, held June 19-26, 2022.
They had the privilege of running on the prestigious track at the Jan Železný stadium in Mladá Boleslav, which hosted athletes from 13 countries.
For Fergus, who lives in Walterstown, the local involvement was with his club in Navan, as well as the Warrior Wolves at their County Louth event with Glenmore AC setting him up for the world stage.
Leaving to try his hand at international participation, the youngster was very positive.
“Obstacles are those scary things you see when you take your eyes off your goal” – Henry Ford once said and Fergus’ goal is to be the best athlete you can be.
Additionally, David O’Hare had previously competed in Ferrara, Italy in 2021, making him a good companion and guide to Fergus.
Both athletes participated in the Triathlon, 100m and 200m individual. David then did the individual long jump for the first time at international level. The Irish athletes were in the Trisomy 21 category – the other eligibility category being Mosaic.
With a good number of athlete registrations, they had to be at the top of their game. The 100m Men’s Trisomy 21 had four runs. Qualification for the final was calculated as follows, the winner of each heat and the next four fastest to advance.
It was in his sleeve that Fergus Cosgrove finished third and just missed the final. In the men’s 200m sprint with Down syndrome, Fergus again missed the final by 1 sec. Close enough to encourage him to work on his performance ahead of next year’s European Open Championships in Italy.
As the most experienced athlete, David O’Hare improved all around, setting a total of three personal best times and 3 personal best distances in Mladá Boleslav. Naturally, Fergus had also set great times and distances, which will form the basis for future international ascent.
The main event for which these two athletes entered the World Championships was the triathlon. The triathlon consists of a 100m sprint, long jump and shot put. Each country may enter a maximum of three athletes in accordance with IAADS rules and technical regulations. They both excelled, finishing 9th and 11th overall. This places Ireland as a top 6 country with two athletes in the top 12, an absolutely brilliant achievement!
The rankings in Ireland, after the world championships, are as follows:
100m sprint Men T21 – Fergus Cosgrove (Triathlon & Individual)
200m sprint Men T21 – Fergus Cosgrove
Men’s Long Jump T21 – David O’Hare (Triathlon & Individual)
Shot Put Men T21 – Fergus Cosgrove (Triathlon)
After three days of competition, countries were offered optional biometric testing for their athletes. The results will help coaches and medical staff take a more focused and holistic approach when preparing athletes for their specific events. In the case of Ireland, we have a young adult, David O’Hare, 22 years old and on the other hand, we have Fergus Cosgrove who is still a teenager of 15 years old. This means that the support and development they will need will have to be individualized.
During the event, Irish delegates, Tsenya, attended the General Assembly of IAADS, the International Sports Association for People with Down Syndrome, where the 2023-2026 calendar was discussed among other things.
For now, it’s back to the drawing board to develop and create more local participation opportunities for these 2 athletes, as well as all of their Down syndrome peers.
* Any athlete interested in getting involved in athletics is invited to contact Tessa van Heerden: [email protected]