Mark English (UCD AC) continued the momentum of the Irish team on day one of the European Athletics Championships in Zurich. He powered to victory in his heat of the 800m in a time of 1.47.38 to qualify automatically for the semi-finals.
English made all the right moves as he could afford to coast down the finishing straight to a comfortable victory. His time of 1.47.38 was the fastest of all the qualifiers for the semi-final stage.
English said “I am delighted with that, everything went to plan. I wanted to sit in second or third until 200m to go and then go for it. I could afford to ease off over the last 20m, I felt fresh.”
Team mate Declan Murray was drawn in heat three and despite being in a good position with a 150m to go he finished out of the qualifiers in seventh place in a time of 1.50.01.
Murray commented afterwards “I put myself in a good position with 150m to go, I just didn’t have it the legs over the last part which is disappointing, I just ran out of gas.”
Fionnuala Britton (Kilcoole AC) contested the women’s 10,000m final in a week where she will also run the Marathon Cup. The opening couple of kilometres were run at a pedestrian pace with all the lead protagonists still in contention. Britton was content to sit mid-pack as almost the entire field passed through half way in 16.26.
With just over 3 laps remaining Clemence Calvin of France started to inject some pace as Britton started to struggle with the surge in pace. Jo Pavey of Great Britain looked comfortable in second before unleashing a kick of her own to win the title in a time of 32.22.29.
Britton at this stage was locked in battle for the minor places as she battled all the way to the line to finish eight in a season’s best of 32.32.45.
Commenting afterwards Britton said “I am disappointed with that; I should have run much better, I couldn’t go with the change in pace with 3 laps remaining. I have the marathon next so it’s about recovering now and doing my best in that.”
Britton’s performance concludes an exciting first day of competition for the Irish team at these championships. High Performance Director Kevin Ankrom said “It has been a very encouraging day for us, those athletes we expected to qualify did and for those that didn’t they were competitive, with for some was their first senior championships. We are looking for these championships to form an integral part of their performance development towards Rio 2016 and beyond.”
Earlier in the day……………..
Ireland’s Thomas Barr (Ferrybank AC) got the Irish team off to the perfect start with victory in his heat of the 400m Hurdles on day one (August 12th) of the European Athletics Championships in Zurich. Barr was drawn in lane two and needed to be in the top four to be sure of automatic qualification for the next round. He won the race impressively in a time of 49.79 seconds as he ran smoothly over the ten barriers.
Commenting afterwards Barr said “I came out to hopefully win it, so I am happy with that; the early start was a bit of shock to the system. I am confident now after that performance.”
Barr will be in action again in the semi-finals on Wednesday, 13th of August.
There was no luck for team mate Jason Harvey (Crusaders AC) as he finished seventh in his 400m Hurdles heat in a time of 51.91. Harvey attacked the first 300m aggressively but then struggled slightly in the last 100m. Harvey said “It’s just so frustrating, I had prepared well up until the Commonwealth Games and then I picked up an ankle injury, I thought I would be ok today, it just wasn’t to be its very frustrating as I know I am capable of better.”
Amy Foster (City of Lisburn) placed fifth in her 100m heat in a time of 11.51 to qualify as a fastest loser for the semi-finals. Foster blasted from the blocks and fought all the way to the line to record the same time as the fourth placed athlete.
Foster said “I am not happy to not get the automatic qualification, it was really close. I felt I got a good start and lost it a bit towards the end. I’ll re-focus now for the semi-finals.”
19 year old Phil Healy was also competing in the 100m heats as she finished sixth in her race in a time of 11.53 which unfortunately wasn’t enough to qualify her for the semi-finals.
Commenting afterward Healy said “It was an unbelievable experience, I am gutted that I didn’t get the fastest loser spot, I only missed it by two one hundredths. I’ll look back at the race later and use that to improve on for next season. We still have the relay to come which I am looking forward to on Saturday”
Irish 400m athletes Brian Gregan (Clonliffe Harriers AC) and Richard Morrissey (Crusaders AC) both secured qualification for the semi-finals of the 400m. Morrissey finished sixth in his heat in a new personal best of 46.20 to qualify as a fastest loser for the semi-finals. Commenting afterwards Morrissey said “Great to get a PB, great to be in a class race like that and get a PB, hopefully more to come now in the semi-finals.”
Gregan finished third in his heat in a time of 46.33 to qualify automatically for the semi-finals. Gregan attacked the race aggressively from the beginning and looked in control coming down the finishing straight as he secured automatic qualification for the semi-finals.
Commenting afterwards Gregan said “I felt good today; I wanted to be sure of qualification and did what I had to do today. I felt in control and I am ready to roll now for the semi-final tomorrow.”
There was no luck for Ireland’s Sarah Lavin (UCD AC) as she placed eight in her heat of the 100m Hurdles in a time of 13.35. Making her debut at the championships Lavin was drawn next to Anne Zagre of Belgium, the eventual heat winner in a fast 12.86 seconds.
Lavin said “I am gutted with that as I know I can run better than that, I knew coming in that I would need a big personal best to get through and I know I am capable of that, it just didn’t happen today.”