The 6th edition of the AIT International Athletics Grand Prix will be held on Wednesday the 13th of February 2019. Further details of the events and ticket prices will be released in the coming weeks.
The event has grown in stature over the past five years to reach the Top 5% of indoor athletics meets worldwide. It is an amazing opportunity for the public to witness world class athletes competing at the top level of their sport in the midlands of Ireland.
2018 Event Review
Barr wins 400m and John Travers made history by being the first Irish man under 4 minutes in the mile on Irish Soil.
The blue riband AIT Mile event never ceases to lift the crowd as the ultimate event of the AIT International Grand Prix. Quite possibly there has never been a more popular third place finisher at an indoor meet in Ireland. While Ryan Gregson comfortably won the race in 3.57.86 it was former AIT scholarship student John Travers made Irish athletics history by becoming the first Irish man to run a sub 4-minute mile on home soil (3.59.40). The gracious Australian winner Gregson allowed Travers to take the limelight and applause of the crowd post-race. Grzeforz Kalinowski of Poland was the other man to run sub 4 minutes when he clocked 3.59.19.
Irish headliner Thomas Barr thrilled the home crowd with a come from behind victory in the final 40m of a brilliant Ericsson 400m men’s race. Barr was the only athlete to dip under the 47-second barrier which was an amazing time for a 400m hurdles specialist. Barr was fulsome in his praise of the ecstatic sell-out crowd who he credited with helping him overtake Ricardo Dos-Santos of Portugal in the home straight.
The Bank of Ireland men’s pole vault proved to be a scintillating event. Current world champion Sam Kendricks and former world champion Shawn Barber had a big battle which was ultimately won by the current world champion Kendricks. The winning vault was a massive 5.70m. Kendricks had three valiant attempts at 5.80m which would have been an all-comers and stadium record in the AIT International Arena.
A packed Alkermes 800m men’s field treated the large crowds at the AIT International arena to a brilliant spectacle. Spaniard Kevin Lopez had to dig very deep into his reserves to hold off Irish hero Mark English. Lopez’s winning time of 1.47.43 while English came home in 1.47.48. The fact that Poland’s Mateusz Borkowski and Great Britain’s Andrew Osagie could only manage third and fourth respectively tells us what a fine run English gave.
A late addition to the field, Danaid Prinsen from the Netherlands pushed Latvia’s Liga Velvere into second place for the second year in a row in the Westmeath County Council women’s 800m. Prinsen (2.02.29) carried her form from last weekend where she became the Dutch national champion all the way to Athlone. Irelands Claire Mooney ran a personal best of 2.03.56 as she came third.
Jamaican Ryan Shields (6.63) was just 5 hundreds of a second off the stadium record to win the Hodson Bay and Sheraton Athlone Hotels men’s 60m from previous winner D’angleo Cherry USA. Dutch athlete Joris Van Gool rounded off the podium. One Irish man Dean Adams recovered from his DQ at the national champions last weekend to reach the final and run 6.88.
Another Dutch athlete was the winner in the DPDs women’s 60m. Naomi Sedney who was forth favourite before the race won in a time of 7.30 while pushing American Harrigan-Scott and Jamaican Calvert-Powell into the minor places. Joan Healy and Niamh Whelan put in strong performances in an excellent final.
Lindsay Lindley was the winner of a very competitive Athletics Ireland women’s 60mH in a rapid 8.04 as pre-race favourite Raven Clay only managed third place in 8.22. Dutch girl Eefje Boons was second with a time of 8.01. Irelands Sarah Lavin finished in fourth with a time of 8.35 which was 7 hundreds of a second ahead of compatriot Elizabeth Morland who beat Lavin in the national championships last Sunday.
Sofia Ennaoui put in a blistering final 300m to justify her favourite tag to win the Roscommon County Council women’s 1500m in 4.10.63. German girl Gesa Krause a perennial favourite at the AIT GP just took second place from Australian Zoe Buckman. Irish national champion Emma Mitchell ran a brave race to come fourth.
The AIT Sports men’s high jump almost had an Irish winner in Barry Pender who finished third on countback. The event favourite Jaroslav Bába won the event with 2.19m followed by Norbert Kobielski and Pender who both jumped the same height as Bába.
The Midlands Print women’s long jump was won by Irelands Sarah McCarthy with a winning jump of 5.62m. McCarthy was consistent throughout the night with 5 of her 6 jumps 5.53m+. AIT’s own Amy McTeggart taking second place with two 5.51m jumps.
AIT GP – The First 4 Years
World class athletics returns to Athlone Institute of Technology again tonight with the fifth edition of the AIT International Grand Prix. The event has in the past four years attracted the cream of world athletics.
The first big headliner for the inaugural event in 2014 was the now retired Ashton Eaton, the World & Olympic Champion at the time. Six stadium records were broken as big time athletics came to Athlone IT for the first time since the opening of the AIT International Arena. This event put the AIT GP on the map internationally as word spread inside the international athletics community that AIT had a ‘fast track’.
Three international stars, namely, Mutaz Essa Barshim, Carmelita Jeter and Asafa Powell made their presence felt in 2015. Powell unfortunately picked up an injury in warm-up and was forced out of the competition. Barshim ultimately stole the limelight as he broke the Asian indoor record with a jump of 2.41m. He then had three valiant but ultimately unsuccessful attempts at 2.44m which would have broken the world record of 2.43m set by Cuba’s Javier Sotomayor in 1989. If the AIT International GP was not already a world renowned event before 2015 then Barshim ensured that it was globally recognised.
Big headliners were recruited again in 2016 and the novel addition of the Pole Vault event attracted world class competitors. Canadian world champion Shawn Barber battled it out with American Sam Kendricks before achieving ultimate success with a best jump of 5.77m to smash the stadium record. Barbers compatriot, and world silver medallist, Melissa Bishop didn’t disappoint the fans as she won the 800m race in a time of 2.00.60. The best however was kept for last as Ethiopian Dawit Wolde dominated the men’s mile as he also broke the Ethiopian indoor 1500m record when posting 3.37.86. This time was also a world lead.
The women’s 60m hurdles has been a staple annual discipline on the AIT GP programme and this was no different in 2017 as former Olympic Champion Sally Pearson opted to come to Ireland to relaunch her career after injury. Pearson showed all her class & technique but only came third as Christina Manning ran a stadium and all comer’s record of 7.82. Pearson, however, progressed to the World Outdoor Championships in London where she claimed Gold. Pearson in fact named the AIT GP as her launch pad for her successful season.