ASTONISHING!!!……..On Saturday night in New York City, Scoil Naomh Pádraig’s Bernard Ibirogba wrote his name into the history books of the world famous Millrose Games. Bernard, who was competing against the fastest 8 year olds on the east coast of America, stormed to a phenomenal win in the closest run race of the day. His victory in The Fastest Kid on the Bock 55m race makes Bernard the first Irish winner at the famed track and field competition since Mark Carroll won the Wannamaker Mile 17 years ago. Our little sprint sensation joins a famous list of past Irish winners at the meet including Eamon Coghlan, Ronnie Delaney and Marcus O’Sullivan.
Bernard’s weekend didn’t start as planned as his flight to New York was diverted to Washington D.C. before eventually arriving into the Big Apple at 1.00am (6:00am Irish time). Bernard didn’t allow the door to door journey of almost 24 hours derail his ambitions of winning, he just smiled and embraced every moment of the trip. After a good night’s sleep, Bernard set off to the Amory Track on 168th street for his final training session. His final workout included some light drills and some fine tuning of his starting technique. A couple of hours later he was centre stage at the official press conference before finishing the day out at the official Millrose Games Banquet where he dined with Olympic 1500m Champion, Matt Centrowitz. Some might consider this an overwhelming experience for an 8 year old but this wasn’t the case for Bernard, he loved every second of it and his infectious smile lit up New York City.
When race day arrived on Saturday, Bernard entered the sold out 5000 capacity stadium at 1:00pm. He checked in for his race, picked up his bib and then sat down to soak up the atmosphere. Like an eagle in the sky, he studiously observed the professional athletes going through their pre-race rituals. An hour before his race, he set off for the warm up track to rub shoulders with the pros and at this point, Bernard and the many Olympic champions were now on a first name basis with each other. Bernard completed his pre-race warm and drills just as he would have done in the Curragh.
At 3:11pm, Bernard laced up his racing spikes and stepped onto the line to compete against America's fittest and fastest. The starting gun fired and Bernard shot out from his crouching start but he slightly trailed the leader. As with previous races, Bernard hit full stride at the halfway mark and he began to close in on first place. He gained precious ground with every step and stormed over the line in a sensational 8.41 seconds, the very same time as his closest competitor, Phil Kamara. Who won? Nobody knew…..The entire crowd anxiously awaited the result of the photo finish but after a few nervous moments the winner was announced…..BERNARD IBIROGBA - MILLROSE CHAMPION!!!
This incredible moment was witnessed by Bernard’s proud parents Kudi and Abiodun who made the trip to New York. Congratulations must go their way for always supporting and encouraging Bernard. On behalf of Bernard, his family and Scoil Naomh Pádraig, we would all like to express our immense gratitude to Dermot McDermott and Caoimhe Ní Mhurcú who have created this wonderful opportunity through the Believe and Achieve initiative. Without any sponsorship, Dermot and Caoimhe have funded the entire trip out of their own pockets and they left no stone unturned to create an amazing weekend for an amazing boy. Scoil Naomh Pádraig would also like to congratulate Emily Kelly of Donegal who ran an excellent race to finish in 3rd place in the girls' Fastest Kid on the Block race. Emily and Bernard were great ambassadors for Ireland.
Bernard would also like to thank his school teammates and classmates who have encouraged him throughout the year and in particular, Ife Ojo, who has trained very closely with Bernard over the past month. In addition, Bernard would like to thank all the staff at Scoil Naomh Pádraig, including teachers Mr Healy, Miss Collins, Miss Sheehan and Mr Connolly who have all regularly joined the running team on their runs over the Curragh Plains. Finally, the school would like to thank the Defence Forces for use of their track, Alan Ward (Emerald Facility Services), Jim Aughney (Dublin Marathon) and Jill Bradbury (Bradburys Irish School Meals) who have all made generous contributions to the school's cross country programme over the past three years.
The final word goes to our hardworking hero, Bernard Ibirogba. We are all so proud of you and you deserve every success. WELL DONE CHAMP!!!
Bernard has gone viral - see press coverage below.
Race Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2yXOXVE3Uc
Believe and Achieve Initiative: https://twitter.com/believe9achieve?lang=en
Irish Runner Magazine:http://www.irishrunner.ie/young-irish-light-up-millrose-games/
Irish Examiner: http://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/sport/watch-8-year-old-irish-boy-win-fastest-kid-on-the-block-title-in-new-york-776971.html
Kildare Nationalist http://www.kildare-nationalist.ie/2017/02/10/bernards-fastest-feet-take-him-all-the-way-to-new-york/