Coleraine Calamity!

Coleraine Calamity!

Craughwell’s athletes made the 5 hour journey to Coleraine for the National finals of the uneven juvenile age groups and the senior novice cross country. Some travelled the night before, making a family weekend of it. Some spent 10 hours on the road today to and from the event. All were utterly disappointed at a very poorly organised event. I wouldn’t normally be critical of event organisation as everyone does their best – but this seems to have been a shambles.  

We had 14 juveniles in action – with teams in the U11 boys and U13 boys and 2 individuals in the U11 girls and U13 girls.

 

The U11 girls were first to go and had lined up nicely in their starting chutes before it was realised that their course was measured incorrectly. So they were told to move forward a few hundred metres. Unfortunately the forwards motion was interpreted by many as the start of the race, and off they tore only to be halted a few hundred metres further on for the actual start. 

With the girls out of view at this stage behind a wooded area, the boys lined up in the same chute for their race. Our team had a good position in chute 3 as per the program. But as with the girls, they were informed the start was further on and by the time they got to the start, it was totally congested – no chutes and our guys got stuck at the back. Then the first attempt to start, false start, let’s try again, false start, let’s try again, false start. After the 5th false start, the race was let go. Unfortunately half the competitors thought it was another false start and didn’t go – and were then told they’d have to catch up. So that was it. Our team finished well back because they were in the half that didn’t start. The first experience of National cross country finals for these guys. Hopefully it’s not the last.  

The coaches in the club do so much to prepare teams, the parents do so much in taking their kids to training and competition, the athletes do so much hard work to try to be their best. It’s very disheartening for everyone to put in such hard work and fork out money for accommodation just to have some poor organisation destroy the whole experience. 

The U13 boys were on shortly after this and spirits were higher with some very good performances, amidst a controversial start also. The guys went through the pain barrier to run the race of their lives ….. just to be told after it was all over that the race was null and void due to a mismanaged start. That’s even worse than the U11 result – to run your very best and then told you need not have bothered running at all because the race is void. Rumour is that it will be ran off again after Christmas. I wonder how many of these disappointed 12-year olds will be back for the rerun. 

All I can say to the parents and athletes from our own club is not to lose heart. We do our very best in the club to make athletics an enjoyable sport for all our members. We try to contest National events as we believe it’s good for the athletes to compete at a high level. Travelling such a distance to Coleraine was always going to be a big commitment. We genuinely thought we had teams capable of getting into or close to the medals. Unfortunately the experience was destroyed for all our athletes and their families and our coaches. Hopefully it won’t diminish your commitment to the sport and hopefully it will never happen again.

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