Ireland’s Derval O’Rourke finished in fourth position this evening in the final of the women’s 60m hurdles in Paris O’Rourke got off to a good start and was with the pace until the eventual winner Carolin Nytra of Germany, 2nd place finisher Tiffany Ofili of Britain and Christina Vukicevic of Norway began to edge slightly in front of the Cork star to take the medals away from O’Rourke, who had the consolation of sorts of running a season’s best time of 7:96 in fourth.
O’Rourke gave it her all from her lane 8 and will know that the build-up to these European Indoors did not go as smoothly as she would have liked, after having missed a period of training due to slight groin problem last month that forced the bronze medal winner from Turin in 2009 to miss the Irish Indoor Championships two weeks ago.
29 year old O’Rourke had progressed her time through the heat and semi-final, having run 8:07 in her heat and 7:98 in the semi to qualify comfortably for the final. The absence of a podium place at these championships will be a disappointment for the fiercely competitive Leevale AC athlete, but no doubt will now focus on taking her training to the next level in preparation for the World Athletics Championships in Korea in August
Marian Heffernan was in the 1st round heats of the women’s 400m this morning. Heffernan got off to an encouraging start but was slightly off the leading pace at the bell at 200m to go. Looking comfortable the Cork athlete pushed on down the back straight but couldn’t catch the leading group of four and finished in 5th place in a time of 54:94, which will be very disappointing for the Togher AC athlete who ran 54:00 to win the Irish Indoor title two weeks ago.
Marian Heffernan from Cork had an anxious wait before learning that she had not survived the heats of the women’s 400 m. She battled back from a poor start to finish fifth in a time of 54.94 and this came very close to being good enough to make the semi-finals as one of the three fastest losers.
It became very tense as Heffernan’s time was exactly the same as Patricia Lopes of Portugal for the last spot. So the Technical Committee had to apply a time that was the nearest 1000th of a second and it was here that Heffernan lost out by 3/1000’s of a second. “I had a very poor first 50 metre and then was left having to fight to make up the deficit and it was just too much in the end” she said.
Clonliffe’s Brian Gregan has been in fine form of late over 400m indoors and had high hopes of doing well here at the European Championships. Running in lane 5 of heat three, the young Tallaght athlete got off to a good start and was well placed in 3rd position at the 200m bell in the hunt for one of the two automatic qualifying spots up for grabs. Coming off the last bend with 70 metres to go Gregan got a slight knock from Tamac the Turkish Athlete and lost a crucial yard or two in the home straight. Finishing in 4th place in a time of 47:63, Gregan will also be disappointed with his two-lap effort here, but the young Dublin man will have other opportunities to shine in the future.
“I just don’t know what happened. I could hardly breathe out there. I’m absolutely shattered” said the 21 year old Irish hopeful.
“I had to break my stride at 200 metres and after that I was fighting to make up ground but I just lost my stride and then I seemed to lose the head and there was none of that smoothness that has been a feature of my running in recent weeks.”
“That is a time I could run in my sleep. I can’t explain it except perhaps the sinus problems I’ve experience since I came here might have something to do with it. But right now I’m down in the dumps and in shock at being eliminated like that.
“I just ran like an amateur. My legs felt heavy and it’s harder to take considering I ran a second faster in the Irish Championships in the Odyssey two weeks ago. Competing in a race like this so early in the morning is not good but it’s the same for everyone and that is not an excuse.”
Gregan waited around to see if he might survive as one of the fastest losers but that hope was fruitless and it was painful for the Irishman to see the fact that times of 47.31 and 47.33 were good enough to progress.
North Laois AC’s Dan Mulhare was the final Irish athlete in action this morning in the 3rd heat of the men’s 3000m. Up against a quality field that included Britain’s Andy Baddley, Mulhare gave it his all in the race, and finished in a respectable 6th position in time of 8:04:57, just behind the leading group of five athletes who all qualified for tomorrow’s final. Mulhare will have some reason to be relatively satisfied with his performance here this morning in this traditionally highly competitive indoor event.
Mulhare said: “I have no excuses for not making the final” he said. “I just need to get my 1,500 m time down by several seconds if I hope to keep with these guys. They have 1.500 m times several seconds faster than me and that pace is just a breeze for them.
“I did my bit to try and get a strong pace going but when it came to the last couple of laps that vital speed was not in my legs. But I intend to work harder and harder and it was just fantastic to get this type of experience out here.”
Letterkenny’s Darren McBrearty was in action in the first of five heats of the men’s 800m this afternoon. McBrearty took the race on from the gun and passed 200m, 400m and 600m in the lead before giving way slightly to three of his rivals on the last lap. The tall 19 year old from Donegal kept on fighting for one of the first two automatic qualifiaction places, and was rewarded for his brave front-running tactics by claiming the second of the two fastest loser places for the semi-final, finishing 4th in 1:49:74, the fourth fastest qualification time from all the five heats – a notable achievement. The winner was the Pole Lewandowski in 1:48:81.
The Irish in action tomorrow are:
Tori Pena, Pole Vault Q, 8:05am
Ailish McSweeney, 60m heats, 9:00am
Kelly Proper, Long Jump Q, 10:15am
Mary Cullen, 3000m heats, 10:30am
Darren McBrearty, 800m Semi-Final, 14:40pm