Irish athlete Rhasidat Adeleke moved to 20th in the all-time list for the women’s 400m as she triumphed at the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Championships.
Adeleke, 20, smashed her own Irish record by 0.34 seconds in Texas as she took victory in 49.20 seconds.
US star Britton Wilson had been a strong favourite for the final but had to settle for second spot in 49.64.
Adeleke’s win saw her become the first Irish victor at the NCAAs since 2006.
Sligo athlete Mary Cullen’s 5,000m triumph in 2006 was the last time that an Irish athlete had triumphed at the prestigious US collegiate championships.
Wilson remains second in this year’s world rankings behind Dominican Republic athlete Marileidy Paulino (48.98) but the American was unable to get close to her season’s and personal best of 49.13 seconds as she was overhauled by the Irishwoman in the closing 50 metres.
The American’s hopes of achieve an historic 400m and 400m hurdles double at the championships unravelled as the University of Arkansas athlete later could only finish seventh over the barriers in a disappointing time of 55.92 seconds – some 1.47 seconds behind winner Savannah Sutherland.
‘I just went out trusting myself’ – Adeleke
Adeleke’s win saw her become the first Irish sprinter to win a NCAA title and she also helped her University of Texas team clinch the 4x100m relay title.
The Dubliner described her 400m triumph as a “kind of a blur”.
“I just went out trusting myself,” said the Tallaght athlete.
“I’m not really sure what I went through the 200 in. I just put myself into position coming into the home stretch and it was the kick at the end, which is something I’ve been doing well all season.”
Adeleke’s collegiate triumph adds further credibility to the belief that she will be among the medal contenders at this year’s World Championships in August.
The Dubliner was a semi-finalist in the 400m at last year’s World Championships in Oregon and a month later went on to finish fifth over the distance at the European Championships in Munich.
While Adeleke celebrated, there was disappointment for another Irish athlete Sophie O’Sullivan who finished 12th and last in the 1500m final in 4:22.81.
The daughter of legendary Irish athlete Sonia O’Sullivan was fastest qualifier in Thursday’s heats after running 4:09.58 but was unable to reproduce that kind of form as she finished over 14 seconds behind Harvard’s winner Maia Ramsden.