It was a disappointing night for the Irish athletes on day four of the European Track and Field Championships in Helsinki, Finland. Both the men’s and women’s 4×400m relay teams were disqualified for zone infringements.
The women’s team of Clare Bergin (Dundrum South Dublin AC), Joanne Cuddihy (Kilkenny City Harriers AC), Marian Heffernan (Togher AC) and Michelle Carey (Dublin Striders AC) finished the race in fifth place 3.32.43. However it was later revealed that the team were disqualified due to a zone infringement on the third changeover. Despite this, the team are still in a very good position to qualify for the Olympic Games; they need to await results from tomorrow’s final and the African Games before the outcome is certain.
Ireland’s men’s 4×400m relay team unfortunately were also disqualified from their heat. The team made up of Brian Murphy (Crusaders AC), David Gillick (Dundrum South Dublin AC), Tim Crowe (Doneen AC) and Jason Harvey (Crusaders AC) finished the race in eight place (3.12.63). However the team were later disqualified for an out of zone changeover between Gillick and Crowe, and Harvey stepped inside the track, 120m from the finish.
Paul Hession (Athenry AC) finished eighth in the men’s 200m final in a time of 21.27. Hession, who was drawn in the tight inside lane, blasted from the blocks and passed the Italian Diego Marani. However the effort of this showed in the home straight when Hession faded and the Italian passed him on the line. The race was won by the Dutch athlete Churandy Martina in 20.42.
Stephanie Reilly (Sli Chulainn AC) finished a gallant 12th place in the women’s 3000m steeplechase final. The pace started off slow with the leading group, which included Reilly, going through the first 1000m in 3.14. From there the pace gradually wound up and Reilly started to lose touch with the leaders. Reilly rallied over the last lap and crossed the line in a time of 9.53.90.
Reilly said “I am happy enough with that, I would have liked to have gone quicker but I knew after two laps that it wasn’t going to be a fast race. So I just tucked in and held on for as long as I could. My next race will be the nationals and then I have a few more 1500m races before the Olympics”
Mark Kenneally (Clonliffe Harriers AC) placed 15th in the men’s 10,000m final. Kenneally, who is in the middle of heavy training for the marathon was using the race as speed work as part of his build up towards London. Kenneally attempted to stay with the leaders but when the pace increased he started to lose touch and eventually crossed the line in 29:10.55
Kenneally said “I am not happy with that. I would have liked the pace to have been quicker; it is very hard for me to pick up the pace, given where I am at with my training. I have put in a couple of 120 mile weeks for the last while so I know my preparations are on track for London.”
David Rooney (Clonliffe Harriers AC) was also competing in the 10,000m. Rooney making his senior debut at these championships placed 20th in a seasonal best time of 29:57.82.
All eyes now turn to reigning European Cross Country Champion Fionnuala Britton (Kilcoole AC), who goes for gold in the women’s 10,000m final tomorrow at 15.25 Irish time.