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Tyrone’s Nick Griggs wins gold in Tallinn following tragic death of brother last month

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TALLINN, ESTONIA - JULY 17: Nicholas Griggs of Ireland celebrates winning the Men's 3000m Final during European Athletics U20 Championships Day 3 at Kadriorg Stadium on July 17, 2021 in Tallinn, Estonia. (Photo by Joosep Martinson/Getty Images for European Athletics)

TALLINN, ESTONIA - JULY 17: Nicholas Griggs of Ireland celebrates winning the Men's 3000m Final during European Athletics U20 Championships Day 3 at Kadriorg Stadium on July 17, 2021 in Tallinn, Estonia. (Photo by Joosep Martinson/Getty Images for European Athletics)

Getty Images for European Athlet

TALLINN, ESTONIA - JULY 17: Nicholas Griggs of Ireland reacts in the Men's 3000m Final during European Athletics U20 Championships Day 3 at Kadriorg Stadium on July 17, 2021 in Tallinn, Estonia. (Photo by Joosep Martinson/Getty Images for European Athletics)

TALLINN, ESTONIA - JULY 17: Nicholas Griggs of Ireland reacts in the Men's 3000m Final during European Athletics U20 Championships Day 3 at Kadriorg Stadium on July 17, 2021 in Tallinn, Estonia. (Photo by Joosep Martinson/Getty Images for European Athletics)

Getty Images for European Athlet

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TALLINN, ESTONIA - JULY 17: Nicholas Griggs of Ireland celebrates winning the Men's 3000m Final during European Athletics U20 Championships Day 3 at Kadriorg Stadium on July 17, 2021 in Tallinn, Estonia. (Photo by Joosep Martinson/Getty Images for European Athletics)

A Co Tyrone teenager who tragically lost his brother in a road accident last month has overcome adversity to win a gold medal in the European Under-20 Championships.

Nick Griggs (16), from the Newmills area, was not expected to medal in Saturday’s race.

But he stormed to victory in the 3,000m in Tallinn, Estonia, taking home Ireland's third gold medal of the day and fourth overall in the competition.

He said afterwards: "Of course when I saw the other guys winning I wanted to show something similar.

"But in the end I just did my job and focused on my race... I did not feel any pressure because we are prepared to race like this. We are a very small country and these results are just exciting."

Scores of people congratulated the runner on social media following news of his win.

Among them were former Irish Olympic star Sonia O’Sullivan, and his school, Cookstown High.

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"Amazing young man and a credit to his family and the Newmills and Brackaville community, Nick has such a talent and we are all amazed by his achievements, well done," one said.

Another wrote: "Amazing result! Next stop Olympics 2024 in Paris."

"Absolutely tremendous achievement Nick," said another supporter.

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TALLINN, ESTONIA - JULY 17: Nicholas Griggs of Ireland reacts in the Men's 3000m Final during European Athletics U20 Championships Day 3 at Kadriorg Stadium on July 17, 2021 in Tallinn, Estonia. (Photo by Joosep Martinson/Getty Images for European Athletics)

TALLINN, ESTONIA - JULY 17: Nicholas Griggs of Ireland reacts in the Men's 3000m Final during European Athletics U20 Championships Day 3 at Kadriorg Stadium on July 17, 2021 in Tallinn, Estonia. (Photo by Joosep Martinson/Getty Images for European Athletics)

Getty Images for European Athlet

TALLINN, ESTONIA - JULY 17: Nicholas Griggs of Ireland reacts in the Men's 3000m Final during European Athletics U20 Championships Day 3 at Kadriorg Stadium on July 17, 2021 in Tallinn, Estonia. (Photo by Joosep Martinson/Getty Images for European Athletics)

The Griggs family is linked to Brackaville Owen Roes GFC. It also sent congratulations to Nick, posting: “Unbelievable run”.

Given his age, the runner is young enough to defend his title in two years’ time in Romania .

Nick's win came towards the end of an unprecedented run of success for the Irish team across two days in Tallinn, led by Irish sprint champion Rhasidat Adeleke from Tallaght AC, who took gold in both the 100m and 200m races.

In the men's 1,500m, Longford’s Cian McPhillips became the first Irishman since Mark Carroll in 1991 to take gold.

But Nick’s win carried an extra sense of poignancy, after the death of his brother, Josh.

Despite the tragedy, Nick later set an Irish youth record of eight minutes and 11 seconds in the 3,000m in Dublin, while in May he also recorded a personal best time of 14 minutes and 16 seconds over 5,000m in Belfast.

At the time, his mother Royanne posted: “Josh would have been so proud”.

Josh (19) died in a road accident near Banbridge on June 8. At the time he had been travelling as part of a summer job to raise money for his university studies.

Posting on social media at the time, his mother said: “Josh was so loved by everyone and that is bringing us comfort.”

Barrie Holmes from Mid-Ulster Athletic Club said: “It was a great shock to learn of the sudden death, due to an accident at his summer job, of Josh Griggs, older brother of our esteemed member Nick. Josh had an outstanding athletic talent and took part in his younger days in our Star Track Summer Camp but his talent took him to Gaelic football, where I understand he was a rising star.”


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