By Will Downing
Marcus Lawler has suffered an early exit in the 200m at the European Athletics Championships in Berlin.
The Carlow athlete finished fifth in his opening-round heat in 20.80 seconds, having gone into the race as the fastest man of the seven on season’s best, through his 20.40 PB set at last month’s Cork City Sports.
Lawler started well out of lane two, but past the bend had still not emerged from the pack.
With only the top three going through from the heat, plus the next two fastest losers, Lawler couldn’t push past the athletes in third and fourth – Davide Manenti of Italy and Norwegian Jonathan Quarcoo – and found himself immediately eliminated due to that fifth position.
Likoúrgos-Stéfanos Tsákonas of Greece took the heat in 20.49 seconds, ahead of France’s Mickael-Meba Zeze on 20.65, Manenti was third on 20.70, and Quarcoo fourth on 20.77, before Lawler’s 20.80.
Both the Carlowman’s current lifetime best and his previous mark of 20.71 would have been enough to progress if replicated today.
In fact, the St Laurence O’Toole sprinter’s time today was still faster than some automatic qualifiers from heats 3 and 4 – but not in his heat 2.
“Not good enough,” Lawler admitted afterwards.
“I had set myself a realistic goal of making the final – or as close as possible to that.
“That was realistic. It was obviously a high goal but I’ve been having a brilliant season, with good form coming into it. I ran big PBs all year.
“That’s not good enough, it’s not going to cut it and I’m gone in the first round.
“That’s why it’s so disappointing as well. I ran 20.40 and on paper it was the fastest, but it doesn’t pan out on paper.
“Still, I should have been in the top three there. I just don’t know what went wrong.
“I ran my own race the whole way through. Definitely, I used a lot of energy on the bend – I thought the bend was decent enough, and lane two is a little bit tight.
“I know the Italian guy got me coming down towards the end but I stayed fighting, and it wasn’t good enough.”
Lawler misses out on a spot then in tonight’s semi-finals, where his new international team-mate Leon Reid has been given a bye, due to this year’s rankings.
Reid ran 20.27 in Birmingham at the start of last month, but as his transfer to Ireland under the parentage rule was only ratified last week – his birth mother is from Belfast - it was still under the umbrella of being a British athlete.
Paul Hession’s Irish record from the 2007 National Championships stands at 20.30, with Lawler’s 20.40 in front of the TV cameras last month putting him second on the all-time Irish list.
Emma Mitchell will round off the day’s Irish action as one of 26 competing in the women’s 10,000m final at 7:40pm Irish time.
Additional gold medals will be decided in the men’s long jump, discus and decathlon, plus the women’s shot.