Irish sprinters Thomas Barr and Phil Healy have welcomed the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics until 2021, a decision announced today after talks between Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, and International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach.
There’s never been a World Championships quite like these, and the jury is out on whether that’s a good thing. From the captivating energy of Beijing 2015 to the thronged stands of London 2017, we find ourselves here, in Doha, Qatar, wondering just what the sport and its athletes have done to deserve this.
On a day that celebrated the past, it was hard not to look to the future. Yesterday’s National Athletics Awards in Blanchardstown may have brought together many current and former greats, but it wasn’t a nostalgic reflection that left a strong sense of optimism.
Medals have a habit of distracting attention, bright and shiny as they are, so to get a feel for the current state of Irish athletics after the European Championships in Berlin you have to step back from Thomas Barr’s brilliant bronze and look at the week as a whole.
Shock wasn’t the right word, nor could you say it was a huge surprise, so if anything Thomas Barr’s bronze medal at last night’s European Championships proved a delightful deliverance on his talent, an ode to his outstanding ability at the event they call the man-killer.
The planning started from his sick bed. It was August 2017, and Thomas Barr was lying in his hotel room in London, his World Championships brought to a grinding halt by gastroenteritis, which had reduced a world-class athlete to a sweating, vomiting wreck on the most important day of his year.
It is, in many ways, a make-or-break weekend for Ireland at the IAAF World Championships in London, with seven of the 11-strong team taking to the track or roads in the English capital over the next two days.
Less than two weeks out from the World Championships in London, this was always going to be a fact-finding mission for Ciara Mageean, Mark English, Brian Gregan, and Thomas Barr, and though each of them faced a test of differing degrees of difficulty, they all passed with flying colours.
Ireland lie seventh after the middle day of the European Athletics Team Championships in the northern Finnish city of Vaasa, with Brian Gregan scoring the only Irish victory of day two, alongside eleven top-six finishes.