Claire Ryder was back to her brilliant best in Antrim at the weekend where she leaped to a brilliant bronze medal in the U13 girls’ long jump. Having won an indoor bronze medal in 2007 in long jump and outdoor gold in 2007 with team-mate Ella Bryan, Claire was terribly unlucky in the indoors this year to finish in 4th place by the tiny margin of 1cm. But she put all that behind her on Sunday to jump her best jump since that indoor 4th place to seal a medal in these National Championships.
Claire got off to a good start in the competition, leaping a fine 4.51m on her 2nd attempt – her strongest jump in almost 3 months. After 3 jumps, Claire was in 3rd place and the top eight were given their next 3 jumps. Amber Barrett from Donegal was leading the event with a 4.75m jump from her 2nd attempt with Jessica Walker from Tramore in 2nd place with a 4.64m jump also from her 2nd attempt.
On her 4th jump, Claire leaped 4.52m to improve her position slightly. Concerned about the 2007 and 2008 indoor champion from Dublin, Bronwyn Keogh, who was having difficulty with her mark and who was lying in 6th place with a jump of 4.48m, Claire had to focus hard on trying to overtake 2nd place in case the Dublin jumper pulled a big one out on her last attempt. It wasn’t to be for the Dublin jumper as she failed to improve on her last attempt. On her final attempt, Claire put everything into it – landing just short of the board to pull off a huge leap of 4.57m and consolidate 3rd place and give her a 3rd National long jump medal.
Claire was the only jumper to continue to improve her jumps in the last three jumps. Her strongest jump was about 4.80m if measured from the point of take-off – very encouraging for the future for Claire. This firmly put the previous day’s 80m sprint behind Claire – where she was slightly disappointed not to make the sprint final having run faster in the Connacht qualifiers, but weather conditions didn’t help.
There was disappointment for PJ Kelly in the U14 boys’ long jump where he finished in 4th position in miserable conditions just 11cm behind the bronze medallist. The U14 boys long jump was one of the few jumps to be ran into the strong wind and naturally this affected everyone’s jumps. PJ is gradually edging himself closer and closer to a National medal in the long jump – with 5th and 6th place finishes prior to this year and a 4th place finish in both the indoors and outdoors this year. He took 4th this year with an exceptional leap of 4.30m into a strong wind. His PB of 4.53m would have given him the bronze medal but it was not to be in these weather conditions.
Both PJ and Claire have the National Community Games finals to look forward to later in the ‘summer’ – where they both qualified despite having another year in the same age group.