Brian Gregan (Clonliffe Harriers AC) became the third Irish athlete to secure a place in a final on day two of the European Track and Field Championships in Helsinki, Finland.
Gregan running in lane six looked fluent and relaxed as he made up the ground on the athletes outside him. Coming down the home straight, Latvia’s Janis Leitis started to come alongside Gregan. However Gregan stuck to his task and pushed all the way to the finish to claim second place in a time of 45.76. The importance of nabbing that all important second spot means Gregan is assured of a good lane draw for the final.
Gregan said “I am reasonable happy with that, conditions were cold out there in comparison to the heats. I felt strong coming down the finishing straight. I could feel the Latvian on my inside and new exactly what I had to do. I am just going to rest now before the final and give it my best”
Earlier in the day, Jessie Barr (Ferrybank AC) blitzed her way into the Women’s 400m Hurdles Final. Barr ran a personal best time of 55.93 to finish fourth in her semi final; the time was good enough to qualify her into Saturday’s final.
Barr said “I am thrilled with that performance and delighted to be in the final. I would have like to have run quicker and get the Olympic A Standard (55.50). But there wasn’t much atmosphere in the stadium this morning so hopefully the buzz of the final will push me towards that time. I have nearly a day and half off now to get ready so the extra recovery time should really help”
Although Barr was drawn in the difficult outside lane, she made light work of it as she hurdled magnificently to a place in the final. Barr said afterwards in reference to her lane draw “I was in lane eight at the European U23 Championships last year and because I am a taller athlete the outside lane really suits me”
Thomas Barr, brother of Jessie (Ferrybank AC) will not join his sister in the 400m hurdles final. Barr finished in fifth place in his semi final with a season’s best time of 50.22. Barr said “I am delighted for Jessie as I know how hard she has worked this year, I would have loved to have joined Jessie in the finals, instead I will be one of her loudest supporters from the sideline!”
Barr ran strongly from the blocks and didn’t panic when the German athlete Georg Fleischhauer came up alongside him. In the home straight Barr maintained his form all the way to the finish and crossed the line in fifth place. His time was the second quickest time of his career, second only to the national junior record of 50.05, which he set last year.
Stephanie Reilly (Sli Chulainn AC) was another of the Irish athlete to make a big impact on day two. Reilly finished sixth in a time of 9.44.15 in the women’s 3000m steeplechase semi-finals to qualify for the final. Reilly ran a superb race from the offset and looked extremely composed throughout. A leading group of four athletes started to pull away from Reilly at the 1500m mark; however the Wicklow born athlete never panicked and strode home to her second quickest time ever over the distance and a place in the final to booth.
Reilly said “That was my first major race of the season, it felt really good. I didn’t have much of an indoor season, which is unusual for me but I put in some good base work instead and certainly feel a lot stronger. The aim coming in was to make the final so now that I am there I will give it everything I have.”
Tori-Pena (Finn Valley AC) was unlucky not to qualify for the women’s pole vault final. Pena had first time clearances at 4.15m and 4.25m. Pena showed real guts and determination when she cleared 4.35m on her third attempt. Unfortunately Pena then had three failures at 4.40m, a height that would have got her into the final.
Day 3 (29th June) Irish Athletes Competing
Steven Colvert (Crusaders AC), 200m heats, 10.30am & Semi-Final 18.25
Paul Hession (Athenry AC), 200m heats, 10.30am & Semi-Final 18.25
Amy Foster (City of Lisburn), 200m heats, 12.00pm &Semi-Final 18.55
Jessie Barr (Ferrybank AC), 400m Hurdles Final, 18.00
Brian Gregan (Clonliffe Harriers AC), 400m Final, 19.25