Hicks wins Gold but Ireland takes team title in U23 event

by Clay Shaw

Dublin, Ireland, European Cross Country, U23 Event, December 12, 2021—Charles Hicks of Great Britain & Northern Ireland won in 24:29. Hicks, who runs for Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA, had to withstand a very strong challenge from Darragh McElhanney of Ireland who took the lead on the next to the last lap, thrilling the home crowd.  McElhinney took the silver in 24:33 on the 8000-meter course.  The Irish won the team title, led by McElhinney, Keelan Kilrehill who was sixth in 24:42, and Michael Power who was thirteenth in 25:03. 

Ruben Querinjean of Luxembourg was third in 24:36, coming from well back early in the race, to contend, and win the bronze.

Magnus Tuv Myhre of Norway was fourth, and Guillaume Grimard of Belgium was fifth.  To compete in the U23, athletes need to be born in 1999 or later.

After the race, Hicks commented: “It was neck and neck. The guy from Luxembourg who came from behind in the end put an amazing push in. I think me and Darrah [MCELHINNEY] were struggling at that point. I think he [Ruben Querinjean of Luxembourg] really brought us through, and took a lot of the slack from both us. I think this contributed to how this 1-2-3 played out, but I tried to put so many surges and breaks, but he couldn’t just not be broken. The crowd was just cheering him on so much, it was good to see, although it was putting me under a lot of pain. When Darragh came back, I knew how much this race meant to him, but also how much it meant to me, so I went for it. I think we [Team Great Britain] are always going for first. What is the point of coming here if you are not going in for first? There are a few of us still on the younger side of U23, so we are hoping to come out even stronger next time.”

McElhanney: “I’m absolutely over the moon. I’m happy with second, I’m more than content, but the fact that the team pulled it out of the bag, I´m buzzing. Charlie made it hard, I did my best to stay with him. In the second lap I made the decision to sit back off him. Then in the second last lap I said to myself, if I put in a hard lap in here, it’s a medal guaranteed, so I ended up closing the gap with him, and we knew it would come down to a bit of a kick. It was a ridiculous race but I’m buzzing.”

Querinjean: “I didn’t expect to win a medal here today, maybe finish in the Top 20 – that was my main goal. After the race started, I had a better understanding of the course and the field out there, especially the group right behind me. I knew I could do a very good last lap, so I told myself to stay with the group, because it would be easier afterwards. I kicked in the last lap, maybe a little too early, but I attacked at the right time – in the uphill bit, knowing I could take it from there, but it was harder than I expected. I am very, very happy though.”

Michael Power [3rd scorer on Team Ireland]: “I’m delighted, absolutely delighted. My own race went really well, and having Keelan there, he went past me and I could see he was driving on and I just had to hang on. I was holding on for dear life at the end; I think I was passed by two people in the last six or seven hundred metres. I saw a few British lads behind me and I knew I just had to hold them off and when I did that I was buzzing! I’m so proud, for Darragh especially. Darragh has been through it all this year and the last few years, having tough times with Championships and Covid last year. He was capable of winning a medal then and didn’t get a chance, so for him to do that now is unbelievable.”

In the team standings, Team Ireland won the gold with a narrow victory over Great Britain & Northern Ireland.  France took third. The large crowd at the event was thrilled with the win – definitely a highlight for the host country.

Editors note: U23 means Under-23 or 22 years old or younger on 31 December in the year of the competition.

Top Individual Results

  1. 24:29 Charles Hicks, Great Britain & Northern Ireland
  2. 24:33 Darrah McElhinney, Ireland
  3. 24:36 Ruben Querinjean, Luxembourg
  4. 24:39 Magnus Tuv Myhre, Norway
  5. 24:41 Guillaume Grimard, Belgium
  6. 24:42 Keelan Kilrehill, Ireland
  7. 24:48 Antoine Senard, France
  8. 24:49 Aaron Las Heras, Spain
  9. 24:52 Zakariya Mahamed, Great Britain & Northern Ireland
  10. 24:55 Valentin Gondouin, France
  11. 24:57 Emil Millan De La Oliva, Sweden
  12. 25:00 Omar Nuur, Sweden
  13. 25:03 Michael Power, Ireland
  14. 25:04 Thomas Mortimer, Great Britain & Northern Ireland
  15. 25:10 Duarte Gomes, Portugal
  16. 25:14 Rory Leonard, Great Britain & Northern Ireland
  17. 25:15 Omar Ismail, Sweden
  18. 25:17 Luca Alfieri, Italy
  19. 25:19 Florian Le Pallec, France
  20. 25:20 Omer Amactan, Turkey
  21. 25:21 Baptiste Fourmont, France
  22. 25:21 Pietro Arese, Italy
  23. 25:23 Matthew Stonier, Great Britain & Northern Ireland
  24. 25:23 Dereje Chekole, Israel
  25. 25:25 Samuel Charlton, Great Britain & Northern Ireland
  26. 25:26 Vadym Lonskyy, Ukraine
  27. 25:31 Eemil Helander, Finland
  28. 25:33 Baptiste Guyon, France
  29. 25:34 Francesco Guerra, Italy
  30. 25:35 Assaf Harari, Israel
U23 Men’s race was the highlight of the day for the host country Ireland. The team won gold, and Darragh McElhinney won silver.
Darragh McElhinney of Ireland thrilled the home crowd with his front-running throughout the race.
Darragh McElhinney or Ireland pushes the pace along the photographer’s guide rope, along with Charles Hicks of Great Britain. Omar Nuur of Sweden, Zakariya Mahamed of Great Britain & Northern Ireland, and Bastien Augusto of France are also in the mix, early in the U23 race.
Darragh McElhinney or Ireland gets cheers from the crowd, as he battles Charles Hicks of Great Britain & Northern Ireland for top honors in the U23 race.
Etson Barros of Portugal, and Abdullah Tugluk of Turkey seem to be giving each other the stink eye during the U23 race.
Charles Hicks of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (and Stanford University), puts in the winning surge as he successfully outkicks Darragh McElhinney, and Ruben Querinjean.
Charles Hicks of Great Britain & Northern Ireland wins the U23 race in 24:29. Darragh McElihinney or Ireland was second, with Ruben Querinjean of Luxembourg earning the third place bronze.
Ruben Querinjean of Luxembourg had a strong final lap, to moved up and earn the bronze medal spot in 24:36.
Baptiste Fourmont of France digs in to finish just ahead of Pietro Arese of Italy. Both athletes were clocked at 25:21.
Darragh McElhinney #196 lets team Ireland know that they are the U23 champions.
Darragh McElhinney, Michael Power, and Team Ireland are excited to have won gold in the U23 race
Team France earned the U23 bronze.
Team Belgium U23 team.

Categories: Race Coverage

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