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WATCH: Nick Griggs reacts to silver medal in 3000m final at European Junior Championships

Nick Griggs in action during the 3000m final at the European Junior Championships in Jerusalem
Nick Griggs in action during the 3000m final at the European Junior Championships in Jerusalem Nick Griggs in action during the 3000m final at the European Junior Championships in Jerusalem

YOU can run fantastic times in paced races, but championships are different gravy.

That will be the message that Nick Griggs takes away from the European Junior Championships in Jerusalem after being overtaken for the gold medal in the final straight of the 3000m.

It was a typical championship race, with the field little more than jogging for five laps before the real racing started.  

After passing through two kilometres in a pedestrian 6:17, there was a discernible injection of pace that saw the penultimate lap covered in under 62 seconds, with Griggs always looking ready to strike.

And strike he did with just 300m left as only Jonathan Grahm was able to respond.

The Tyrone teenager still looked to be on the way to victory coming off the final bend but ran out of gas as the stylish Swede overtook him 50 metres from the tape.  

Disappointment was written across the face of the Irishman as he headed toward the outside rail of the track where he was consoled by family and friends.

It was the second time in less than a year that he has been denied a European junior title, after being robbed of the cross country gold in sight of the finish.

Griggs did not accept the pressure of being the defending champion or the level of expectation from his Irish fans had got to him.  

“It’s difficult but nice. It nice to be highly thought of among the Irish athletics community as a whole. But I’m just sorry to all the Irish fans who were out supporting, my mum, my dad, my coach.

‘‘Yeah I didn’t get the job done today. The Irish fans and supporters at home are unbelievable, second to none. Yeah, sorry to everyone,  I just couldn’t get it done. 

“I honestly don’t know what happened. I felt good. Then my legs just kind of went with 150 to go. Yeah I seen him come past me, I tried to fight and fight. I need to work on that last 100 metre strength. That’s two races in a row now where I’ve just been outkicked”.     

He also confirmed he would still be going to the World Athletics Championships later in the month and outlined his strategy in Budapest. 

“Just to go out a give it a run and see what happens. There’s no pressure – I’m so young. I’m going to be one of the slowest there. Just give a go and see what happens.”  

Two other Irish athletes were in finals last night. Oisin Joyce threw 70.25m for a splendid sixth in the javelin and Ava Rochford equalled her personal best of 1.80m again to take tenth in the high jump.   

In yesterday’s morning session, both 4x400m relay squads recorded seasonal bests to  progress to today’s finals.

The girls were third in their heat in 3:39.02, with their medal prospects enhanced by the disqualification of the strong Great Britain quartet. 

The boys went one better with a runner-up spot in their preliminary round and an impressive 3:10.43 timing.  

Irish field eventers continued their strong showing with Elizabeth Ndudi qualifying for the long jump final in fifth place from her pool thanks to a solid 6.37m best effort, and Anna Gavigan duplicating that in the discus eliminator throwing 46.09m. 

Not so fortunate was Donegal 400m hurdler Fintan Dewhirst who, after running a personal best 51.49 seconds in Tuesday’s heat, was only seventh in his semi-final with a 56.64 mark.

Victoria Amiadamen was also eliminated from the women’s 400m hurdles despite running a personal best 59.53 seconds.      

Lucy Foster and Frank Buchanan had respectable finish places in their respective 1500m finals at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Trinidad.

Both races epitomised perfectly the absurd nature of these Games with world-class performances at the sharp end scaling down to mundane at the other extreme. 

Foster finished ninth in the female final with a time of 4:35.45 in a race won by Kenya’s Nancy Cherop in a Games record of 4:12.38 and the last two finishers registering modest 4:45 marks. 

The boys’ race was even more shocking with another Kenyan Jospat Kipkirui also recording a Games record of 3:37.66 and the first three competitors all under 3:40 – times that would not be out of place at the World Athletics Championships in Hungary later this month.

Buchanan was 10th in 4:06.41 with the last competitor crossing the line in 4:17.

Only time will tell what the NI competitors will gain from the experience.