Mark English Makes European 800m Final
Mark English (UCD AC) was the standout performer from the Irish team on day two of the European Athletics Championships in Zurich. English making his debut at European senior level made the final of the 800m.
English was drawn in the first semi-final and needed to be in the top three positions to be sure of a place in the final. He ran a tactically smart race tracking the leaders every move. Pre-event favourite Pierre Bosse of France led the field through the bell and romped home to an impressive victory in a time of 1.45.94.
It was only in the last 50m that English began to struggle as he slipped down to fourth place to finish in a time of 1.46.23. However there was joy for English as the second semi-final was much slower meaning he qualified for the final as a fastest loser.
Commenting afterwards English said “The aim coming in was to make the final so I am happy with that; it’s a relief now to be in the final. Of course I wanted to be in the top three but that doesn’t matter now. I’ll recover and give it my best in the final.”
English’s performance means he becomes Ireland’s first 800m finalist since1998 when James McIlroy (cousin to golfer Rory) placed fourth.
Irish 400m Hurdle record holder Thomas Barr (Ferrybank AC) didn’t qualify for the final of the 400m Hurdles as he finished third in his semi-final. Barr was drawn in lane three and needed to finish in the top two positions to be sure of qualification for the final.
In a very competitive field Barr was targeting a place in the final. He ran a smooth first 200m battling hard against Europe’s best one lap hurdlers. Barr notorious for his strong last 100m gave everything over the last hurdle but just missed out on a dip finish. He finished third in a time of 49.30 with home favourite Kariem Hussein taking the victory in a time of 49.16 seconds.
Commenting afterwards Barr said “I am really disappointed with that, I came into the race aiming to finish in the top two positions and it just didn’t happen today. I have had a great year but I am really disappointed not to be in that final.”
Brian Gregan (Clonliffe Harriers AC) and Richard Morrissey (Crusaders AC) contested the semi-finals of the 400m.
Morrissey was drawn in the tricky inside lane in the second semi-final. In qualifying for the final Morrissey had run a personal best of 46.20 a day previous. The semi-final proved a step too far as he finished eight in a time of 46.64.
Gregan was drawn in the third and final semi-final and needed to be in either the top two positions or the two fastest losers overall to advance to the final. Gregan ran an encouraging first 100m and although he lost ground on the leaders coming around the top bend he produced a strong surge over the last 100m.
The surge almost brought him into contention however he ran out of track and finished sixth in a time of 45.81. The time was a season’s best time which would have won him the first semi-final.
Gregan said “I am disappointed with that, maybe if I had of gone out a fraction harder it could have been different. I felt strong in the last 100m, I was ranked outside the top 30 coming in so to run a season’s best is encouraging but I wanted to be in that final. I have the relay next so I will re-focus for that now on Saturday.”
Amy Foster (City of Lisburn AC) didn’t qualify for the final of the 100m. Foster finished eighth in a time of 11.79 seconds. The race was run into a -1.7 headwind with French athlete Myriam Soumare running out the winner in a time of 11.17.
Commenting afterwards Foster said “It would have been nice to finish the individual events with a better race, overall it has been a great year, I would have loved to get into that final.”
High Performance Director Kevin Ankrom said “I expected Mark to make that final so I am delighted for him that he did. These championships are very challenging and for those that didn’t make it through today it was about being competitive at this level. It’s about moving forward and learning from this experience. We still have a number of further opportunities coming up over the next few days.”