Amazing display of courage as badly injured NUIG athlete hobbles to second place finish
"Might just make it on the line.... ohhhh, she's hobbling, she's hobbling!"
19 one-hundredths of a second. Aishling Forkan was that close.
It was a cracking day of competition, in Athlone today, at the 2019 Irish Universities Athletics Championships.
Phil Healy blazed home in 23:04 in the Women's 200 metres but the real drama arrived soon after, in the Women's 4x100 metres final.
As the athletes running the first 100-metre leg lined up, commentator Will Downing observed, "As always with the relay, it's always a mixed bag. You never know what you are going to get. Carnage sometimes."
How prescient those words would turn out to be. There was carnage, but there was also an incredible show of courage.
After two legs of the relay, it was between Cork I.T and National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) until a poor baton hand-over and a blistering third leg put the Galway foursome in the clear.
Forkan, the fourth runner was around 15 metres clear of her closest rival, from Ulster University, when she dramatically pulled a muscle going down the final straight.
There were around 50 metres to go at this stage but the brave NUIG runner could see the finish line and the brave 20-year-old tried to hobble on.
The pain got so much over those final metres that she had to hop on one leg as her opponents bore down.
Her courageous efforts were not enough to win the race but she did finish in second before falling to the track in agony.
A nearby photographer was the first to rush to the stricken athlete, before a runner from Athlone ran back to check if she could help.
In the end, despite such a serious injury NUIG were only pipped to the top of the podium by 0.19 seconds.
#IUAATF19 4x100m Final provisional
1. UU 49.66
2. NUIG 49.85
3. AIT 50.21
4. UCC 51.06
— IUAA (@IreUniAthletics) April 6, 2019
You can watch all the race drama unfold from 2:43:00 here:
A heartbreaking finish but fair play to the sprint star for finishing it out