Paul Hession, International Athlete, Spring 2004

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Paul Hession with his parents, Eoin and Geraldine and sisters, Emer and Karen

Paul Hession of Athenry Athletic Club is now one of Irelands’ top athletes competing in the 100m and 200m events in outdoor Track and Field competition and in the 60m and 200m events in the indoor arena.

In recent years there has been a decline in the standards and numbers competing in cross country and middle-distance events with a corresponding improvement in the sprinting events. This is due to better coaching and improved facilities and of course financial support for young athletes who have the potential to advance to compete on the international stage.

Paul won his first National title in 1996 when he won the 60m at the U15 indoor championships in Nenagh where he also took the silver medal in the 200m. In July of that year Paul won the 100m at the U15 championship of Ireland in Tullamore in a time of 12.04sec. In 1999 he won both the 100m and 200m in the U16 grade. In 2000 he won the 200m at the National U17 indoor championships in Nenagh and also took the silver medal in the 60m. At the U17 track and field championships in Tullamore he again recorded a winning double in the 1OOm and 200m events. In 2001

Paul, who by now was studying medicine at N. U. l. Galway, took the gold medals in 100m and 200m at the Irish Universities track and field championships. He was also eligible to compete in the U18 championship of Ireland in Tullamore where he had a winning double in the 100m and 200m events and this completed Paul’s career in juvenile athletics.

In 2001 Paul also took the bronze medals in the 100m and 200m at the National Junior U19 Track and Field championships in Tullamore. He completed the year by winning the 60m and 200m sprint double at the Irish Universities Indoor Championships in Nenagh in December.

In the year 2002 Paul made a big impact on the international stage. He started by winning the 60m and 200m double at the National Junior Indoor Championships in Nenagh where he set a new National Record for the Junior Indoor 200m with a winning time of 22.18 sec. He then travelled to Cardiff and won the 200m at the Welsh Indoor Championship in a new National Irish Junior Indoor record time of 21.61 sec. Paul then travelled to Birmingham where he took the gold medal in the British A.A.A. Junior indoor championship in a new national junior indoor record time of 21.61sec. He also finished in 5th place in the 60m in 7.01sec. He also took the silver medal in the 60m in 7.1O sec and the bronze medal in the 200m in 22.74sec at the national senior indoor championship in Nenagh.

Paul’s next objective was to make the qualifying time of 2l.54sec. for the 200m at the World Junior Track and Field Championship to be held in Jamaica. He won both the 2OOm in 21.59sec. and the 1OOm in1O.68sec at the National Junior Track and Field championship in Tullamore in June. Paul competed at a series of meets in Europe to make the qualifying time for Jamaica. At Riga in Latvia, he recorded 21 .67sec. At Tartu in Estonia, he recorded 21.62sec. and at Celle Ligura in Italy he recorded 21.47sec to qualify for Jamaica.

ln Jamaica, Paul recorded a time of 21.03sec in the first round of the competition. This was a huge improvement on his previous personal best of 21 .47sec. and was the 3rd fastest time recorded by a European athlete in the first round and was also the joint 4th fastest time in the first round. ln the semi-final Paul recorded a time of 21 .22sec. to finish in joint 8th, but because he was drawn in the fastest heat he did not qualify for the final. However, his time of 21.O3 sec. in the first round was well within the qualifying time of 21.10 for the European senior Track and Field Championships in Munich where Paul gained valuable experience for future contests.

Paul started the year 2003 by taking the bronze medal in 200m at the British A.A.A. Senior Indoor championships in Birmingham, recording a time of 21.33sec in the semi-final. ln April he won the 1Oom and 200m sprint double at the Irish Universities Track and Field Championships on his home track in Galway. In June Paul again travelled to Celle Ligura in Italy where he recorded a time of 21. 24sec for the 200m to qualify for the European U23 Championships to be held in Poland – the qualifying time was 21 .25sec. At the national U23 championships in Tullamore Paul won the 100m in 1O.64sec and the 200m in 21.28sec. He also travelled to Belgium where he was runner up to Paul Brizzel in the 200m in a time of 21 .01sec. At the European U23 championships in Bydgoszcz Poland Paul recorded a time of 2O.88sec. in the first round to set a new Irish U23 record for the 200m. In the final he again set a new Irish record of 2O.83sec to finish in 5th place.

In August, at the National senior Track and Field Championship in Santry Paul took the silver medal in the 100m in a personal best time of 1O.39sec. ln the 200m he took the silver medal in a time of 21.O2sec. missing the gold medal by one hundredth of a sec. in a race won by Paul Brizzel in 21.01sec.

At the world student games in Daegu, Korea Paul took the individual silver medal in the 200m. In the semi-final Paul recorded a new Irish U23 record for the 200m with a time of 2O.8Osec. And in the final recorded a time of 2O.89sec to take the silver medal home to Athenry.

Paul has now taken a year’s break from his studies to concentrate on achieving the 200m qualifying time of 2O.49sec. for the Olympic Games in Athens in August.

His achievements to date have been well recognized in Galway as he was recently presented with the Connacht Tribune, Bank of Scotland, Galway Sports Star Award for Athletics for the third consecutive year.

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About this record

Written by Dermot McNamara

Published here 23 Aug 2023 and originally published Spring 2004

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