Laura Mooney, left and Ava O'Connor, right with Claire Fagan.
TWO promising athletes with Laois connections have been selected to race at the European U-20 Track and Field Championships later this month.
Emo native Ava O'Connor and Offaly native Laura Mooney who went to secondary School in Scoil Chriost Ri in Portlaoise have both made the cut and will travel to Estonia.
They have emerged through a remarkably talented juvenile set up at Tullamore Harriers. One of their club colleagues, Mark Milner (Killeigh) will race at the European U-23 Track and Field Championships, which are also in Tallinn and take place a week earlier from July 8 to 11.
Mooney will run in the 5,000m while O'Connor will race the shorter 1,500m. Both athletes have made tremendous progress in the past few years as they have moved up to international standard.
Ava O'Connor has achieved fantastic consistency in the middle distances in the past few seasons. She has ran 4.26 twice for 1500m. In addition to running fast, O'Connor has also performed well in championship races. Ava has won four All Ireland U20 titles in 800m and 1500m races and in 2019 finished seventh in the 1500m at the European Youth Olympics held in Azerbaijan. Like Laura, Ava has also set herself apart from her peers by setting a Championship Best Performance for 1500m at the 2020 Athletics Ireland U20 Indoor championship when she ran 4.35.81.
Mooney has made phenomenal progress in the past couple of years in particular as she has transitioned into a top class athlete. In May she ran a new national outdoor U20 record for 5,000m while competing in Charlottesville, Virginia. Laura clocked a superb 16:19.43 to edge past the previous record of 16:19.80 which was set by Sarah Collins in 2013. This outstanding run has been followed by fine performances in 3000m, 5000m and 10000m races over the last two months. Just a fortnight ago Laura won the Irish U20 5000m in Santry, Dublin in a new Championship Best Performance of 16.31.
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