While she has had some fantastic weekends of success over the last few years, Saturday 12th April 2008 was the highlight of her career to date for Cathriona Farrell in the National Indoor Track & Field Championships in Nenagh. Having clearing 1.72m in the high jump in January 07, 1.71m in January 08 and 1.70m on a routine basis in between, it was only a matter of time before Cathriona cleared the big goal of 1.75m.
This is the qualification mark for the World Youth Championships in 2009 and is also the entry point for admission onto the Athletics Ireland carding scheme.
With all this pressure heaped on her shoulders, Cathriona was in top class form in the National finals of the U17 indoor high jump on Saturday.
Up against regular rivals Mary Kate Lanigan from Kilkenny and Caoimhe King from Westport, Cathriona entered the competition at 1.55m, clearing easily with inch perfect technique. First time clearances at 1.60m and 1.65m with flawless prowess kept the pressure on the rest of the competition. Caoimhe King wasn’t jumping to her best on this day and exited the competition when the bar reached 1.65m – but more than made up for this disappointment later by winning the long jump in an impressive PB of 5.22m. Mary Kate Lanigan cleared 1.65m but struggled to jump when it reached 1.70m – pulling out of each jump. Cathriona cleared 1.70m on the first attempt with near perfect execution, with a slight wobble on the bar as she brushed it with the underside of her leg.
Up 5cm more … higher than Cathriona’s own height now, a crucial psychological barrier if she could overcome it. She made a valiant first attempt, but brought the bar down. The pressure of the occasion took a slight effect on her 2nd attempt and she cut the corner too sharply on her run in to end up too close to the mat and failed to jump. 3rd and final attempt .. regaining her composure and taking adequate preparation time, Cathriona made a supreme effort and sailed over the bar perfectly – in an emotional moment claiming a new PB, a National title, the National record in this age group, the qualification standard for the European Youth Olympics next year, the qualification standard for the World Youth Championships next year and admission onto the Athletics Ireland carding scheme for elite athletes!!!
One small step for mankind, a giant leap for Cathriona!