English delighted to make first major final

It was a case of relief with Mark English qualifying for the final of the men’s 800m as a fastest loser in 1:46.23 at the Letzigrund Stadium last night while Thomas Barr unfortunately couldn’t replicate that in the 400m hurdles.

English delighted to make first major final

English made all the right moves in the first semi-final, tracking championship favourite Pierre-Ambroise Bosse of France. Bosse went through in 51.53 with English perfectly poised but with 50m to go he faltered. Poland’s Artur Kuciapski and Denmark’s Andreas Bube swooped around to take the remaining automatic qualifying places.

That cued a nervous wait for the second semi-final but it was clear after 300m to a delighted English that he would make his first senior final.

“I pumped my fist in the air after 300m,” said English who was watching anxiously trackside – the first Irish man to make a European 800m final since James McIlroy in 1998.

“I’m just delighted,” he relieved, no doubt feeling the pressure of medal hopes laid on his shoulders.

“I just tied up a bit,” he continued on how the race panned out in the home straight. “But they were good athletes ahead of me. I’m just happy I made the final. It’s my first major final.”

The UCD student indicated that the late race the previous evening had taken a bit out of him but he now has a full day’s rest before tomorrow’s final where he will look to at least emulate McIlroy’s 4th place finish in 1998.

It’s going to be a tall order now to wrestle his way on to the podium ahead of Bosse and the two Polish athletes, Adam Ksczczot and Marcin Lewandowski, who impressed in the second semi-final. They finished first and second in 1:47.12 and 1:47.14 respectively.

Making the final was an important milestone for English in his senior career and he still has the ability to upset the form book.

There was disappointment earlier in the day as Thomas Barr was eliminated from the 400m hurdles semi-finals, finishing 3rd in 49.30. “I just didn’t have that extra gear today off the last hurdle,” said Barr of his race, won by home favourite Kariem Hussein in 49.16.

“Today wasn’t a good day at the office,” continued the Ferrybank athlete whose race, and the meet programme, was delayed due to a category 2 storm warning. It never got too windy – such gusty conditions are more like Santry stadium.

The events got underway nearly an hour later than scheduled and Barr was unable to raise his level whereas many of his competitors were. “That was below my expectations. It’s been a great season. If I put it together I could have pb’d, but I didn’t. I’m disappointed.”

Christine McMahon was the first Irish athlete on the track in the morning and she had to negotiate a false start and faller beside her on the final hurdle to advance into the semi-final in third with 57.16.

“A girl (Ukraine’s Hanna Ryzhykova) fell into my lane, but thankfully there was enough left in my legs to swerve around and get to the line,” said McMahon happily.

The men’s 10,000m final brought the crowd to life with Mo Farah winning a fascinating contest in 28:08.11. His-star studded quality drew the crowd into an exciting finish with Andy Vernon making it a one-two for Great Britain with 28:08.66. He passed Turkey’s Ali Kaya in the final few metres – the Kenyan import running 28:08.72.

The fastest athletes on the night were Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands and James Dasaolu of Great Britain who triumphed in their respective 100m finals – the Dutch woman trumping the field expectedly in 11.12 while Dasaolu eased to victory in 10.06.

This level is still proving a difficult challenge for the Irish but for Mark English it was an important test to pass – his first senior international final now sealed. He will be hoping to be inspired by a medal-winning performance earlier tomorrow morning by Robert Heffernan. How the Irish fared

Christine McMahon

This was a positive performance for McMahon who was disappointed with her result at the Commonwealth Games. 57.16 was one of her fastest ever times and she negotiated a false start and faller expertly.

Thomas Barr

49.30 for third was unfortunately not good enough to advance to the final. The 400m hurdlers have upped their game come the championship. A medal was looking unlikely after the first round but he would have expected to make the final

Amy Foster

The Lisburn athlete was unable to find an extra gear in the women’s 100m semi-final finishing 8th in 11.79. She has the relay on Saturday to make amends.

Richard Morrissey

Was always going to be a tough ask from lane 1 and despite finishing 8th, 46.64 was a decent run. It sets him up for a good run on the 4x400m relay.

Brian Gregan

Ran a season’s best to finish 6th in his semi-final in 45.81 and ended up ranked 10th overall having gone in ranked 30th.

Mark English

English’s aerobic endurance was found out with 600m to go but it was an important step for the highly talented Donegal man to make the final. He has a full day’s rest to recuperate and mount a challenge in the final.

Irish on track today

Laura Reynolds

Reynolds goes in the women’s 20km race walk and will be hoping to finish in the top 15. Her form has been indifferent due to illness and injury

Kelly Proper

The multi-talented Ferrybank athlete competes in her first 200m at international level and will have high expectations of advancing to the next round.

Christine McMahon

McMahon’s championship will come to a conclusion in the women’s 400m hurdles semi-finals but she has performed positively and will be looking to hold her own and better her personal best pf 56.97.

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