Mark English has won silver for Ireland in the men’s 800m at the European Indoor Athletics Chapionships in Prague.
The UCD athlete from Letterkenny, who turns 22 next week, fought his way up from fifth place to grab second spot on the line ahead of Thijmen Kupers of the Netherlands, with gold going to Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski.
English’s time of 1:47.20 was five-hundredths of a second better than Kupers, who was edged out by the Irishman’s tremendous kick on the final straight.
The 17th all-time European Indoors medal for Ireland is a sweet result for English, having been denied silver by a late surge from Lewandowski at the European outdoors in Zurich last August.
A buoyant English said: "When you have that speed over the last 200 metres, and you’re passing top quality runners, such as Almgren of Sweden, the second-fastest man in Europe going into this - I passed him with ease - it’s such a great feeling.
"It’s a great feeling too to do it for those who have come over and followed me through the years, my family, fans, team-mates.
"They’ve all been out there cheering me on and the Irish are better supporters than anyone in the world...To do this for them is unbelievable.”
And the excitement is set to continue for Ireland with John Travers going in the men’s 1500m final at 4:30, followed by an English-less 4x400m men’s relay final which Ireland’s latest international medallist will now not be competing in.
Update 5pm: John Travers of Athlone IT and Donore Harriers had to make do with seventh in the men’s 1500m final as home athlete Jakub Holusa brought the house down by edging out long-time leader Ilham Tanui Özbilen, the Kenyan-born athlete representing Turkey.
Holusa’s winning time of 3:37.68 was a new national record, and edged out Tanui Özbilen by six-hundredths-of-a-second, with Chris O’Hare of Britain third.
Travers in seventh place recorded the second-fastest time of his career in 3:41.50, only 0.13 seconds outside his indoor lifetime best set yesterday, and said afterwards: “Usually I’m blanked out during a race and I can’t hear much, but the noise coming to the line this time was absolutely ridiculous. Basically that’s what got him the win in the end what that crowd behind him.
“I’m chuffed with the run, but disappointed I missed the break.
“I was coming like a train in the last 100 metres, if I had the touch I could have gained another place or two. There will always be ifs and buts after a race, but overall a very good performance.”
Inspired by three Borlée brothers, Belgium edged out Poland in a dramatic men’s 4x400m relay final as Ireland came sixth through Dara Kervick, Tim Crowe, Harry Purcell and Brandon Arrey.
France won the women’s relay as Russia claimed four field golds on the final day.
Dutch star Dafne Schippers and Britain’s world indoor champion Richard Kilty took the 60m honours, as Sifan Hassan took Dutch gold in the women’s 1500m and Selina Büchel claimed the women’s 800 for Switzerland.
It’s now seven European Indoors out of eight at which Ireland have medalled, bringing the all-time Irish tally to 23 medals at all-time Indoor Games, and 18 medals since the opening Championships in 1970, consisting of five gold, five silver and eight bronze, including Derval O’Rourke’s promotion to bronze from the last European Indoors in Gothenburg.