Hession clears first hurdle in Barcelona

Hession clears first hurdle in Barcelona

Paul Hession progressed through the opening round heats of the 200m this morning at the European Athletics Championships in Barcelona.

The Athenry flyer finished second to Britain's Marlon Devonish in his qualifier, maintaining his push for the line in the closing 50 metres in 20.69 seconds.

Devonish took the win in a season's best time of 20.68, while Sebastian Ernst of Germany claimed third (20.72) for the final automatic qualifying spot.

Hession's run marks him as the fifth fastest qualifer for tonight's semi-finals, but his Irish team-mate Steven Colbert missed out in the third heat, clocking 21.14 for seventh place.

Hession has been drawn in lane five for the first semi (6.55pm Irish time), with Devonish, Norwegian heat winner Jaysuma Saidy Ndure and France's Martial Mbandjock, the bronze medallist from last night's 100m final, his main competition for one of the three automatic qualifying berths.

The 27-year-old, who is coached by Stuart Hogg in Scotland, set a new Irish record of 20.30 in Dublin three years ago, and will have to go close to that in order to make the final.

Hession has a season's best of 20.46, which makes him the fourth fastest of his semi-final field on current form.

Tonight's other semi-final contains French starlet Christophe Lemaitre, who stormed to 100m gold last night and is the fastest European over 200m this year (20.16), along with British duo Christian Malcolm and Jeffrey Lawal-Balogun..

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