Fergus Cosgrove powering his way to victory before he set out for the World Championships.

Top local athletes sparkle on the world stage

By Tessa van Heerden

We the Irish are avid sports fans, as sport plays a key role in the social and cultural life of our Irish communities. This was evident in the support two local lads received when participating in the World Championships recently.

Athletics Ireland club members Fergus Cosgrove, Navan AC and David O’Hare, Glenmore AC took part in the sixth Athletics Down syndrome World Championships in Nymburk, Czech Republic held between 19th to the 26th June 2022.

They were privileged to run at the prestigious track of Jan Železný stadium in Mladá Boleslav, which was host to athletes from 13 countries.

For Fergus, who lives in Walterstown, local participation was with his club in Navan, as well as the Warrior Wolves at their event in Co. Louth with Glenmore AC prepared him for the world stage.

Setting out to try his hand at international participation the young man was very positive.

"Obstacles are those frightful things you see, when you take your eyes off your goal" – Henry Ford once said and Fergus’ goal is to be the best athlete he can be.

Also, David O’Hare had already competed in Ferrara, Italy in 2021 making him a good companion and guide to Fergus.

Both athletes took part in Triathlon, individual 100m and 200m. David went on to do the individual long jump for the first time on international level. The Irish athletes were in the category Trisomy 21 - the other eligibility category being Mosaic.

With a good number of athlete entries, they had to be at the top of their game. The 100m Men Trisomy 21 had four heats. Qualifying for the final, was calculated as follows, the winner in each heat and the next four fastest to advance.

It was in his heat that Fergus Cosgrove came third and just missed out going into the final. In the 200m Men Trisomy 21 sprint, Fergus again missed out going into the final by 1 sec. Close enough to encourage him to work on his performance towards next year’s Open European Championships in Italy.

As the more 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 set great times and distances as well, which will form the base for future international ascent.

The main event these two athletes entered for in the World Championships, was the Triathlon. Triathlon consists of 100m sprint, long jump and shot put. Each country may enter a maximum of three athletes as per IAADS technical rules and regulations. They both excelled, securing a 9th and 11th place overall. This puts Ireland as a country in the top 6th with having two athletes in the top 12, an absolute brilliant achievement!

Rankings in Ireland, after the World Championships, are as follows:

· 100m sprint Men T21 – Fergus Cosgrove (Triathlon & Individual)

· 200m sprint Men T21 – Fergus Cosgrove

· Long jump Men T21 – David O’Hare (Triathlon & Individual)

· Shot put Men T21 – Fergus Cosgrove (Triathlon)

After three days competing, countries were offered optional Biometric testing for their athletes. The results will aid coaches and medical staff in a more focused, holistic approach when preparing athletes for their specific events. In the case of Ireland, we have one young adult, David O’Hare, 22 years of age and on the other hand we have Fergus Cosgrove who is still a 15-year-old teenager. This means that the support and development they will need will have to be individualized.

During the event Ireland’s delegates, Tsenya, attended the General assemble of IAADS, International Athletic Association for persons with Down syndrome, where the calendar for 2023-2026 was discussed amongst other issues.

For now, it is back to the drawing board to develop and create more opportunities for local participation for these 2 athletes, as well as for all their peers with Down syndrome.

* Any athlete interested to get involved in athletics is welcome to contact Tessa van Heerden: Tessa.tsenya@gmail.com