Adeleke stars as Ireland book Paris relay berths

Ireland's Mixed Relay Team that set a National record and qualified for Paris Olympics
Ireland's Mixed Relay Team that set a National record and qualified for Paris Olympics [Athletics Ireland]

Ireland have qualified for the Mixed 4x400m and the Women's 4x400m relays at this summer's Olympic Games in Paris.

Sharlene Mawdsley anchored both squads to National records as they won their respective heats at the World Athletics Relays in the Bahamas.

Rhasidat Adeleke ran two astonishing sub-50 second legs to put the Irish ahead at the halfway stage of both races.

What made the performances of both women even more impressive is that they came less than two hours apart.

The mixed squad of Cillin Greene, Adeleke, Thomas Barr and Mawdsley stormed to victory in their heat.

They confidently defeated the challenge of Belgium who took the second Olympics qualification place ahead of Great Britain.

The time of 3:12.50 lowered the Irish record by 0.38 of a second from that set in the Olympic final in Tokyo in 2021.

Adeleke and Mawdsley were then joined by Sophie Becker and Phil Healy and they found themselves in a two-horse race with Great Britain in the heats of the women's 4x400m.

When Mawdsley came under pressure from Lina Nielsen in the home straight, she never wavered and broke the tape in another Irish record of 3:24.38, lowering the mark of 3.26.06 from the European Championships in Munich two years ago.

“If anything I was feeling a little bit sleepy after being up so early this morning,” Adeleke said.

“Knowing that we could all qualify for the Olympics gives you enough energy to go out there and do your best.”

Mawdsley added, “We couldn’t have asked for much more. Two wins, two national records…what a dreamy night."

Irish Mixed relay team third quickest into final

The mixed relay heat was expected to be a battle between Belgium, Great Britain and Ireland for the top two places.

Greene ran a solid 46.99 but it was a magnificent 49.64 from Adeleke that led to the Irish taking the lead at the halfway stage.

Barr was challenged in the home straight by Belgium and Switzerland but his 45.11 enabled him to hand the baton to Mawdsley with the lead.

Showing all her experience, Mawdsley increased her lead and ran an impressive 50.13 to comfortably win the heat and claim not only the Olympics place but a spot in Sunday's World Relay final as third fastest qualifiers behind USA and Netherlands.

“We knew in our heart of hearts that we had everything we had we needed to qualify and to get through and win this race but sometimes it’s about executing it.

"I feel like we did that exactly what we needed to do to get the job done,” Barr said.

“That’s our first race as a unit this year. Looking forward it looks like we’re only going to get faster, it’s really promising to have the team together and doing so well this early in the season.”

Irish women's 4x400m relay team have qualified for Paris Olympics
Irish women's 4x400m relay team have qualified for Paris Olympics [Athletics Ireland]

Irish women fastest qualifiers for 4x400m final

Ireland were expected to contest for Paris qualification places in the women's 4x400m.

Becker had gotten them off to a good start as she ran 52.62 before handing the baton to Adeleke in second place.

The potential of the 21-year-old may have no limits as she overtook Great Britain and incredibly ran even faster than in the mixed relay posting a time of 49.48.

By this stage the two countries were well clear of the rest of the field and it was pride that drove on the Irish quartet.

Healy, who is returning to her best form, still led after the third leg running a time of 51.30 but Mawdsley had Nielsen breathing down her neck.

However the Irish runner wasn't to be denied as she showed huge strength in the closing stages to hold on for the win as she ran 51.30 which left the quartet as fastest qualifiers for Sunday's final.

It was job done for both squads and they can now look ahead to the Paris Olympics but before that they have medal races on Sunday.