2021 NCAA Track Finals Oregon

June, 2021


To make the NCAA track finals is so special. To make them in a location such as the Hayward field in Eugene – the location of the Olympic trials is even more special. Hayward has a long history in US athletics and anyone who races there smells the powerful scent of that history. For Aoibhe Richardson she has been making history herself for the last 2 years. Competing for the University of San Francisco she not only became their first female athlete to qualify for the NCAA Indoors (before her appearance in them was cruelly snatched by the pandemic lockdown) but she also last month became the first ever USF female to make all three NCAA finals (Cross Country, Track and Field and Indoors). Despite being highly ranked in the 10,000m – her qualification being impeded by heat collapse in the regions in Texas through heat exhaustion, she did make the 5,000m in an incredible turnaround 2 days later. A calculated and prepared runner, Aoibhe ran the first 5 laps of the NCAA 5,000m final according to plan – steady and keeping on pace. By lap 7 her hip started to niggle (an injury she had been battling with for the previous week) – she blocked any hint of what might deter her ambitions from her mind and soldiered on. By lap 9 she could no longer ignore the pain – it engulfed her every breath. Lap 10 and then 11 it restricted her leg movement. As the girls passed her she knew it was not her best day. She knew she just wanted to make it to that line in one piece. Never was Aoife so happy to cross that finishing line, congratulating girls who she knew she should have beaten was hard, looking at another broken dream was tough but a second blow in the space of a few weeks just plain sucked.

It is just a pity that the final race of her scholarship years is so blatantly and cruelly written in the times of that race. It is neither reflective or reprehensive of the amazing journey Aoibhe has had this last two years. For some of us who have endured athletics for several years, first through our own careers and then through those of the athletes we coach or our own children, we have the wisdom to know and understand that an athlete is much more than the time they achieve. They are a sum of the experiences, hard work and achievements that they have accumulated on their athletic journey. For Aoibhe Richardson, it has been some journey over the last 4 years and that is what I for one will be remembering her Scholarship experience for. An all-encompassing journey that is one hell of a dream that never did shatter. Well done Aoibhe from all in Kilkenny County Athletics.

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