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Adeleke claims silver and sets Irish record in Rome

Rhasidat Adeleke has secured a silver medal and set a new Irish record in the final of the 400m at the European Athletic Championships in Rome, filling the runner-up berth behind Poland’s Natalia Kaczmarek.

Lieke Klaver of the Netherlands rounded off the podium places, with Adeleke’s compatriot Sharlene Mawdsley back in eighth.

Kaczmarek recorded a winning time of 48.98 seconds, a new national record and the fastest time in the world this year, with Adeleke clocking an Irish record of 49.07. Klaver ran a season’s best of 50.08, while Mawdsley crossed the line in 51.59.

Adeleke and Kaczmarek were the big two on paper for gold medal honours heading into the final, but the contrast between the two athletes could hardly have been more stark, only accentuated by them running alongside each other in lanes six and seven.

The Polish woman, occupying lane seven, stands at just a shade over 5ft 4in and was made look more diminutive by having the six-footer from Tallaght AC on her inside.

Adeleke clocked a then season’s best of 50.54 in advancing from the semi-finals as the fastest qualifier and the 21-year-old previously boasted a personal best of 49.20, set in her win at last year’s collegiate NCAA Championships in Texas.

Kaczmarek’s previous personal best was 49.48, while her best time this year had been 49.80.

Klaver, racing in lane eight, was the only other woman in the field to have ever run under 50 seconds.

When the gun sounded, the contrasting styles of Adeleke and Kaczmarek were again immediately apparent, with the latter boasting a higher stride rate and Adeleke exhibiting her characteristic long, raking cadence.

There was little to separate the two over the first 200 metres, but Adeleke assumed a narrow lead as they arrived into the home straight.

However, the Dubliner wilted ever so slightly late on as Kaczmarek’s afterburners thrusted her to the line.

So often the bridesmaid outside of relay events, with silver medals from the Worlds and Europeans in her collection, the 26-year-old was not to be denied.

Speaking to RTÉ Sport after the race, Adeleke sounded eager to reoppose her conqueror at the Olympic Games later this summer.

“When I crossed the line and realised I came second, I was a bit devastated,” she said.

“We’re going to continue training really hard for the next couple of week and when it comes to Paris, we’ll be where we need to be.

“I wanted the gold but still, I could have not made the final, there’s so many things that could have gone wrong.”

Adeleke, who embraced her mother after her huge run, also took the opportunity to pay tribute to the most important woman in her life, saying: “If you know my mam, she comes to every single meet.

“Ever since I got into athletics, she put me first all the time. She would switch shifts at work, she would always take annual leave to come watch my meets, take me everywhere and pay for everything.

“To be able to be here doing what I do and what I love, putting this work in, I just feel so grateful to her because I definitely wouldn’t be here without her.”

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