Olympics: Rhasidat Adeleke stars as Irish book Paris relay spots

Image source, Athletics Ireland

Comment on the photo, Irish mixed relay team that set a national record and qualified for the Paris Olympics

  • author, Nigel Ringland
  • Role, BBC Sport Northern Ireland

Ireland qualified for the mixed 4x400m relay and the women’s 4x400m relay at the Summer Olympics in Paris.

Charlene Maudsley installed both teams on the national records as they won their respective heats at the World Athletics Championships in the Bahamas.

Rashidat Adeleke ran two stunning sub-50 second legs to put the Irish ahead at the halfway point of both races.

What made the two women’s performances even more impressive was that they were less than two hours apart.

The mixed team of Celine Green, Adeleke, Thomas Parr and Maudsley took victory in sweltering heat.

They confidently defeated the challenge of Belgium who finished second in the Olympic qualifiers ahead of Great Britain.

The time of 3:12.50 shaved the Irish record by 0.38 of a second from that set in the Olympic final in Tokyo in 2021.

Adeleke and Maudsley were then joined by Sophie Baker and Phil Healy and found themselves in a two-man race with Great Britain in the women’s 4x400m heats.

When Maudsley came under pressure from Lena Nielsen in the home straight, she never wavered and broke the tape in another Irish record of 3:24.38, lowering the mark of 3.26.06 she set at the European Championships in Munich two years ago.

“I was feeling a little sleepy after waking up so early this morning,” Adeleke said.

“Knowing that we can all qualify for the Olympics gives you enough energy to go out there and do your best.”

Maudsley added: “We couldn’t have asked for more. Two wins, two national records…what a dream night.”

The Irish mixed relay team was the third fastest team in the final

The mixed relay heat was expected to be a battle between Belgium, Great Britain and Ireland for the top two places.

Greene ran a solid 46.99 but it was a brilliant 49.64 from Adeleke that saw the Irish take the lead at halfway.

Barr was challenged on the home straight by Belgium and Switzerland but 45.11 enabled him to hand the baton to Maudsley for the lead.

Showing all her experience, Maudsley increased her lead and clocked 50.13 seconds to easily win her heat and earn not only a place in the Olympics, but also a place in the World Championships relay final on Sunday as the third fastest qualifier behind the USA and the Netherlands.

“We knew in our hearts that we had everything we needed to qualify and qualify for this race and win it but sometimes it’s about executing it.

“I feel like we did exactly what we needed to do to get the job done,” Barr said.

“This is our first race as a unit this year. Looking to the future, it looks like we are going to get faster, and it is really promising to have the team together and do well so early in the season.

Image source, Athletics Ireland

Comment on the photo, The Irish women’s 4×400 meter relay team has qualified for the Paris Olympics

Fastest Irish women in qualifying for 4x400m final

Ireland were expected to compete for the Paris qualifying places in the women’s 4x400m.

Baker was off to a good start running 52.62 before handing the baton to Adeleke in second place.

The 21-year-old’s potential may know no bounds as she outpaced Great Britain and ran incredibly faster than she did in the mixed relay where she clocked a time of 49.48.

By this stage, the two countries were completely separated from the rest of the field and it was pride that drove the Irish quartet.

Healy, back to her best, still led after the second leg in a time of 51.30 seconds, but Maudsley had Nielsen breathing down her neck.

However, the Irish athlete was undeniable as she showed tremendous strength in the closing stages to preserve the win as she clocked 51.30 seconds making the quartet the fastest qualifiers for Sunday’s final.

Mission accomplished for both teams and they can now look forward to the Paris Olympics but before that they have medal races on Sunday.

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