Annie represents Ireland at European Youth tests
LAST WEEK saw a young Wexford athlete head out to Holland as part of Team Ireland for the European Youth Olympics, which saw one of the biggest Irish medal haul of recent years.
Annie Stafford from Menapians had qualified last month to represent her country in the girls' long jump in Utrecht, by jumping 5.78m in the Irish Schools All-Ireland in Tullamore where she took the national title for Coláiste Bride (Enniscorthy).
Being in top form lately, Annie also took the national Under-17 long jump title at the A.A.I. championships.
The European Youth Olympics started on Sunday week last and on Monday Annie jumped in the qualifiers, easing her way into Wednesday's finals.
The competition started at 4.15 p.m. Irish time on Wednesday and there was a tense start as Annie sailed over the 6m mark in her second jump, having fouled her first jump, but unfortunately the tiniest of breaks resulted in it being declared a no jump.
Showing huge resilience for one so young, Annie made a safe third and final jump of 5.66m which took her into the final eight eligible to jump again.
A true competitor, Annie went on to finish in seventh position overall, a remarkable achievement bearing in mind that had she not fouled her second jump she would have equalled the distance covered by the bronze medalist. Annie will no doubt break that 6m mark before the season is out.
Team Ireland returned with a total of eight medals, including the girls' 4 x 100m team which won gold.
Annie has benefited from the experience of such high-class international competition and will no doubt be back in the Irish vest very shortly.