Foster and Lawler stand out for Ireland at European Athletics Championships

Foster and Lawler stand out for Ireland at European Athletics Championships

With the Dutch hosts striking 100m gold, Amy Foster and Marcus Lawler put in the best performances from Irish athletes on DayTwo of the European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam, writes Will Downing.

Foster’s third-place finish in her first-round heat of the 100m saw her comfortably through to tomorrow's semi-finals automatically.

Carlow sprinter Lawler had to sweat it out a little before progressing in the men’s 200 as a fastest loser.

City of Lisburn athlete Foster breezed through in 11.57 seconds and was rarely troubled, recording a time only 0.17 seocnds outside her lifetime best, in a race won by Ukrainian Olesya Povh.

“Nice to get the big ‘Q’. That was the main thing for today,” stated Foster, adding: “The time was not what I had hoped for, or what I expect of myself.

“It’s not as good as I know I am but at the Championships, it’s about getting through the rounds.”

Having qualified from the heats yesterday, Thomas Barr, Brian Gregan and Sinead Denny all bowed out in one-lap semi-finals.

World University Games champion Barr came fifth in the 400m hurdles semis, his time of 50.09 modest by his usual standards, in a race won by Spain’s Sergio Fernandez in 49.20 seconds.

Barr only returned to full training a fortnight ago after fearing his European and Olympic campaigns would be scuppered by injury.

“It’s probably a good thing that I’m out,” Barr admitted after his exit.

“I don’t know if I would have had another race in my legs. I’m very disappointed with the time to be honest, because I know I’ve missed a lot of training, but I definitely felt fitter out there today.

“I thought I felt good technically in warm-up, and yesterday felt OK.

“Seeing the fast times in the heats before me gave me a boost, I had my head in the race, but couldn’t get my body to follow.”

Over the flat, Gregan came home seventh in his 400m semi in 46.37 out of lane one, having recovered from a major burst of gastro-enteritis last month.

The Dubliner was only 0.09 outside his season’s best, as Kevin Borlée of Belgium took the win ahead of double European and world indoor champion Pavel Maslak of the Czech Republic.

Gregan said: “A couple of weeks ago I was in hospital with gastro-enteritis. I didn’t think my season was going to happen.

“My form slowly but surely is coming together, running a 46.3 out in lane one. That’s the fastest I’ve ever run out of lane one!

“It’s 0.7 seconds faster than yesterday, so an improvement. I knew the rounds would bring me on.”

Although Sinead Denny of DSD was eighth and last in her 400m semi-final, she still came within a hundredth-of-a-second of her lifetime best set earlier this year of 53.26.

Her time of 53.27 didn’t see her progress out of a semi won in a European lead time of 50.43 by Libania Grenot of Italy.

It was an improvement of almost three-quarters-of-a-second compared to yesterday’s heats for Denny, who said: “It was an experience. Getting into the semis was definitely the main achievement.

“A PB would have been another one. I knew yesterday it would be another huge jump in standards again today, and I’m glad I got an improvement.”

Denny is involved in relay action over the weekend, as will Gregan and Barr.

The 800m campaigns of Declan Murray of Clonliffe Harriers and UCD’s Karl Griffin ended in the first round.

Murray clocked 1:50.10 to finish sixth in his opening-round heat, while Griffin was eighth in a season’s best 1:49.37 – which would have won Murray’s heat, claimed in 1:49.38 by defending champion Adam Kszczot.

Eoin Everard’s 11th place finish in the 1500m semi-finals saw the Kilkenny middle-distance man exit, clocking 3:45.46.

And three misses at 4m45 saw Tori Pena miss out on a major Championship final once more in the pole vault.

Dutch sprint star Churandy Martina is European 100m champion for the second time after a dramatic and thrilling final at the Olympic Stadium, with 0.01 of a second dividing the medallists in a true blanket finish.

Martina dipped in 10.07 seconds, with second-placed Turkish athlete Jak Ali Harvey receiving the same time. The perennially-successful Jimmy Vicaut of France was third in 10.08.

Britain claimed their first two medals in Amsterdam with Greg Rutherford adding another European long jump crown to his Commonwealth, world and Olympic titles – leaving it late to produce the goods with his penultimate attempt.

Dina Asher-Smith won the women’s 200m ahead of former champion Ivet Lalova-Collio of Bulgaria.

Cindy Roleder finally added European gold to her collection of medals by winning the women’s 100m hurdles, with Spain’s Ruth Beitia retaining the women’s high jump in a competition where nobody cleared two metres.

Latvia’s Zigismunds Sirmais produced the goods right at the death to win the men’s javelin with a monster throw of 86.66 metres – three metres clear of the rest – while Dutch neighbours Belgium scored their first triumph of the week through Tomas van der Plaetsen in the decathlon.

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