Saturday 31st – Tokyo 2020 Report
It was a historic afternoon for Irish athletics with the Irish team of Cillin Greene (Galway City Harriers AC), Chris O’Donnell (North Sligo AC), Phil Healy (Bandon AC), and Sophie Becker (Raheny Shamrock AC) becoming Ireland’s first ever relay team to race in an Olympic final in the mixed 4 x 400m medal decider.
The Irish team who would ultimately finish in 8th place produced another superb performance, posting the second fastest ever time by an Irish mixed 4 x 400m team (second only to yesterday’s national record) to round out an incredible two days for the team.
Cillin Green led Ireland out from the gun in lane 1 and picked up Baker from GB in lane 2 as he handed over to Phil Healy for the second leg.
The Bandon athlete maintained position as she handed over to Becker in what was another historic milestone, with both women becoming only the 8th and 9th Irish females to compete in an Olympic track final.
Becker safely transitioned the baton to O’Donnell who took to the final leg in 8th place where he ran hard to try reel in the Jamaican athlete in 7th.
O’Donnell gave his all but was just pipped to 7th as he crossed the line for 3:15.04 and an 8th place finish at an Olympic Games.
The medals would go the way of:
- 1 Poland 3:09.87 OR
- 2 Dominican Republic 3:10.21 NR
- 3 United States of America 3:10.22 SB
The breakthrough performances over the last two days bring to an end a stunning season for the relay teams and will no doubt inspire future success in the discipline.
A special word must go to Robert McDonnell (Galway City Harriers AC) and Cliodhna Manning (Kilkenny City Harriers) who were also part of the relay squad in Tokyo and were a key part in pushing the team to this Olympic final.
Mark English (Finn Valley AC) was first of the Irish in action this morning in the heats of the 800m where he just missed out on progressing to the semi-final stage after finishing 4th.
It was a physical race from the gun which made getting a leading position difficult. The opening lap was dramatic in itself with English battling with the French runner Benjamin Robert for track position in the opening 200m before the Dominican Republic runner Dennick Luke fell to the ground as the pace began to quicken.
The Finn Valley AC athlete crossed the line in 1:46.75, which was just 0.16 seconds behind Polish runner Patryk Dobek for the 3rd automatic qualifying spot.
Post-race English said: "Coming into the year, my two goals were to qualify for the Olympics, and get a new Irish record, and I did that."
Although disappointed at not making the semi-final stage, English can still look back on a fantastic season which saw him break both the indoor and outdoor 800m records on his way to qualifying for an Olympic Games.
Sarah Lavin (Emerald AC) was also one of the early starters this morning, going in the heats of the 100m hurdles.
Lavin put in a brilliant performance to run the second fastest race of her life (13.16), but her 7th place finish was not enough to see her progress to the next round. It was a stacked heat with USA's Kendra Harrison winning in 12.74 seconds.
Lavin can take much from her experience and from her superb season which has seen her break that sub 13 seconds mark in a new PB of 12.95PB earlier this season.
There will be no doubt be further sub 13 performances to come for the Limerick athlete over the next 3 years.
Speaking to RTE, she commented: “…. I wasn’t here five years ago, and I’ll be here in three years, hopefully. Obviously, I want to go further than the heats."
Full Results: Click HERE
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