Nick Griggs nabbed for gold in heart-breaking circumstances at Euro cross country championships
Nick Griggs was nabbed on the line in the Euro U20 Cross Country championships.
The Tyrone athlete looked destined for the gold medal, having streaked away from the field in the closing stages, but his legs gave up on him in the last 60mts of the 6000m race and, in heartbreaking circumstances, he was passed out just before the tape.
Griggs was still content with the silver - that is an outstanding achievement from a man running a year out of his age - but he was so close to a historic gold. No Irish athlete has ever won this race. He's now our first ever to win a silver.
The 18-year-old has long been touted as one of the best underage prospects Ireland has ever had in distance running, and he showed exactly why in a barnstorming run in Turin.
The Mid Ulster AC athlete powered into the lead mid-way through the final lap of what is a gruelling cross country course but in the end, all those hills and all that muck caught up on him.
Right at the end, cross country does this to you, it was hard to watch as Griggs' legs visibly to jelly before our very eyes. Will Barnicoat could see this too, and the British athlete ground his way up the hill to take the gold. Griggs did everything to hold on. He lunged and veered and leant to the extent that he nearly fell over, but sometimes, nothing can be done.
And when nothing can be done, when no more can be given and when you've ran your heart like Griggs did, you have to be proud.
"My coach told me down the last hill to go for it," Griggs told Athletics Ireland afterwards.
"In the home straight, I stumbled a bit and it cost me. It's disappointing but I gave it everything.
"If you had told me yesterday that I would have got a silver, I would have been buzzing, so mixed emotions now"
The most heart-breaking video you'll watch today.
Nick Griggs nabbed for gold at the Euro U20 cross country. But what a run from the Tyrone manpic.twitter.com/MQbap0gDKJ
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) December 11, 2022
As it turned out, it was a brilliant race for Irish distance running as not too far behind him, Ennis runner Dean Casey took the bronze medal. Casey and Griggs have a great, healthy rivalry at the minute with the competition bringing the both of them on.
Having been 13th in this race last year, Casey showed how much he's kicked on this year and he was delighted when speaking to Athletics Ireland after the race.
"I was able to see Nick throughout, fighting for number one spot. You couldn't ask for more from Nick. And for me, it's unreal. I was 13th last year, knowing I wasn't at my best, so to come third this year shows how much training I've done."
— Athletics Ireland (@irishathletics) December 11, 2022
The team, completed by Jonas Stafford, Mark Hanrahan, Sean McGinley and Callum Morgan also took home the silver medal, on a morning, and in a race that bodes very well for the future of Irish distance running.