Friday 30th – Tokyo 2020 Report
Ireland second largest ever Olympic team (athletics) started their Tokyo quests in the early hours of this morning (Friday July 30th).
The firework moment of the day came this afternoon however, when the Mixed 4 x 400m Relay team of Cillin Greene (Galway City Harriers AC), Chris O’Donnell (North Sligo AC), Phil Healy (Bandon AC), and Sophie Becker (Raheny Shamrock AC) secured a place in the Olympic final with a stunning display which saw them smash the Irish national record.
Cilllin Greene, in his first 4x400m relay, couldn’t have done a better job in setting the team up for success, handing the baton to Phil Healy in the lead. Healy had an intense battle with the opposition, also producing the relay leg of her life to give Sophie Becker the chance to do the same. Becker, and final leg athlete, Chris O’Donnell, both maintained Ireland’s strong 4th place spot through composed performances in lots of traffic, with the team eventually promoted to 2nd place post-race.
Speaking afterwards Healy was quick to praise her teammates, saying: “What a leg by Cillin! He totally took over and showed them his class. He gave me the baton in first, putting the team in the best possible position.”
Final leg runner O’Donnell added that the home support helped carry them around the track: “There might be nobody in the stands but we know there’s a full stadium at home watching us, and they’ve been absolutely amazing.”
The team crossed in a superb 3.12.88 to take 4 seconds off the old record. A nervous wait was expected for the fastest qualifier place in the final with only 3 automatic qualifying spots on offer.
Drama unfolded post-race however with both the gold medal favourites USA, and the Dominican Republic being disqualified which resulted in Ireland moving up to second place and an automatic place in final tomorrow afternoon (Saturday 31st 13.35pm Irish time).
Thomas Barr (Ferrybank AC), who finished in 4th place at the Olympics in Rio was back mixing it with the best in the heats of the 400m Hurdles earlier in the morning. Barr had Irish fans off their seats as he powered down the home-straight to claim second place and an automatic qualifying spot in 49.02 which will see him claim a favourable lane for the semi-final on Sunday (13.05pm).
Barr was joined in Heat 3 by World record holder Karsten Warholm (NOR) who would go on to cross the line in first place in 48.65.
The Irish Women’s 800m division has given Irish athletics fans some of the biggest highlights on the track over the past 16 months and Tokyo trio of Nadia Power, Louise Shanahan, and Siofra Cleirigh Buttner, who have been to the fore in bringing the division to a new level, were the first to take to the Olympic Stadium track for the 800m heats. Nadia Power (Dublin City Harriers AC) was first of the three to make her Olympic debut, finishing in 7th place in her heat in a time of 2.03.74 which was not enough to progress to the semi-finals.
Power has enjoyed a phenomenal two years of progress on the indoor and outdoor circuits which saw her smash the Irish 800m indoor record earlier this year. Power will take a great deal from her Olympic experience and will no doubt be setting her sights even higher over the next 3 years.
Louise Shanahan (Leevale AC) went in the third of the 800m heats and put herself well in position at the bell, only to lose touch with the leading pack as the race turned into a sprint in the final 250m. Shanahan crossed the line in 7th place in a time of 2.03.57 to round out a stunning season which concluded with her earning her first green singlet (senior) at an Olympic Games on the back of a brilliant national championship winning performance.
Siofra Cleirigh Buttner (Dundrum South Dublin AC) was the last of the 800m trio in action. The DSD athlete raced towards the rear of the leading pack and was boxed in approaching the bell as the pace of the race began to increase. Buttner would cross the line in 7th place in a time of 2.04.62, finishing off a season which saw her break the national indoor record in a year to remember for Irish 800m running.
Full list of results:Click HERE
July 31st Preview: Click HERE