Conor Penney selected for Euro U18s!

Conor Penney selected for Euro U18s!

Great news came through to the club yesterday evening with the confirmation that Conor Penney has been selected for the Irish team to compete in the European U18 Championships in Slovakia later this month.

Conor’s progression in the high jump has been nothing short of remarkable this year and is testament to his commitment and dedication to the sport. The club and his coaches and his family are immensely proud of his achievements which come after many years of hard work.

Conor kicked off his athletics career all the way back which he joined the club as a 10-year old in the autumn of 2018 and his first taste of high jump action was at the Galway Indoors in early 2019 where he leaped 1.20m to land the bronze medal in the U12 high jump. He followed this up with a 1.28m to take gold at the Connacht’s and had his first taste of national success with a silver medal at the Nationals with a super leap of 1.35m. The outdoors that year saw Conor take silver in the Connacht’s with 1.33m and then struggle a little at Nationals to place 7th with 1.25m .. the last time Conor didn’t feature in the medals at Nationals!!

2020 saw a great start to the year with bronze in the Galway Indoors with a 1.35m leap and following it up with a huge 1.51m to take the gold in the Connacht Indoors in February. The season was abruptly cancelled then with the onset of the pandemic which put paid to the outdoor season also and the following indoor season.

Our younger jumpers should take note from above early years – it wasn’t always plain sailing for Conor with several battles to make the podium in his early days.

The disruption of the pandemic had finally lifted as we approached the outdoor season in 2021 with a delayed start seeing the Galway Championships in early July. The gap year saw Conor add another huge chunk to his PB with a fantastic leap of 1.70m to take the Galway U14 title and 1.65m to do the same in the Connacht’s a few weeks later and land his first National title that August when leaping 1.66m in Tullamore.

The success story continued in 2022 with a huge 1.78m at the Galway Indoors to eclipse the old Galway U15 record by 18cm and follow-on with a new Connacht U15 record of 1.67m and 1.74m to take his 2nd National title and first indoors. The outdoor season saw another triple of titles with 1.72m in the Galway’s, a breathtaking 1.84m in the Connacht’s and another massive 1.88m to take the National U15 title and in the process set a new National Championship Best for the U15 grade. And all this was achieved along with equally impressive performances in the sprint hurdles taking both indoor and outdoor titles. While this article is focused on his high jump progression, Conor is equally adept at hurdles and has won countless National medals in the event under the expert tutelage of Ronnie Warde.

The hurdles titles in 2022 together with his high jump titles saw Conor win the AAI Star Award for County Galway in 2022 – an award presented to the best juvenile athlete male or female from the county each year. And the dream 2022 continued with his biggest achievement to that point when Conor travelled to the English U15 AAAs and despite having another year in the U15 category in the UK, Conor leaped to the English title with a super leap of 1.85m.

2023 kicked off with yet another CBP at the Connacht Championships with a 1.75m clearance and another massive PB of 1.90m to take the National U16 indoor title. Conor then ventured to the English U15 AAA Indoor Championships where he had his biggest achievement to this point when he soared to a new English AAA Championship Best Performance of 1.96m to claim the AAA title – yet another huge milestone for Conor. The outdoor season kicked off with another Galway title with a leap of 1.90m before disaster struck and a knee issue put Conor out of action for the rest of the season. Conor’s dutifully stuck to a rehab plan under the guidance of Ronnie which saw him return to hurdles and high jump training later in the year in preparation for the indoors.

The 2024 indoor season got off to a roaring start with Conor’s first time over the magical 2m mark with a 2.00m clearance in round 2 of the National League in January. He followed it up a week later to take the National U20 title with a winning leap of 1.95m and in early February with his first National senior medal when taking silver in the National Senior Indoors with a first-time clearance of 2.00m.

And then a week later, smashed the Connacht U17 record with a 1.97m leap before doing the same with an incredible 2.04m at the National championships to add 6cm to the National U17 record and in the process obtain the coveted European U18 qualification standard.

An amazing 2024 continued with the Galway Outdoor Championships where Conor soared to 2.05m to set a new Galway CBP and followed this up with 2.02m to break the Connacht record. And a week later taking the Irish Schools Intermediate title with a 1.95m clearance. Next up the most incredible performance at the Tailteann Games where Conor routinely popped over 1.90, 1.95, 2.00 and 2.05 on his first attempt before breaking the record of 2.06m with his next clearance of 2.07m and adding further to it with a 2nd attempt clearance of 2.09m. And a week later, Conor again popped over 2.05m to take silver at the National Senior Championships in difficult conditions with incessant rainfall throughout the event.

See his recent 2.09m leap below. A truly fantastic 2024 for Conor so far and the club is so proud of his achievements which were all achieved with remarkable composure and a bright smile, well done Conor!!!

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