Easy does it for O'Rourke

Derval O'Rourke's love affair with Championship racing was evident once again as she blasted through this morning's 100m hurdles heats at the European Championships in Barcelona.

Derval O'Rourke's love affair with Championship racing was evident once again as she blasted through this morning's 100m hurdles heats at the European Championships in Barcelona.

O'Rourke clocked a season's best time of 12.88 seconds when winning her heat, making her the third fastest qualifier for tomorrow evening's semi-finals. She beat once of the overall favourites, Germany's Carolin Nytra, into second (12.89).

Speaking afterwards, the Cork sprinter said: "It actually felt quite easy. I hate the early rounds.

"It's been a crazy season for me. I've fallen over, been disqualified for false starting - things I never do.

"But I'm in really good shape. I love the Championships, it's an even slate for everybody and you just run like hell."

O'Rourke, the 29-year-old former World indoor champion, will have Nytra and impressive Turk Nevin Yanit for company in her semi-final. She has been drawn in lane six, with the first three in each semi-final and two fastest losers overall to qualify for the final.

Meanwhile, Waterford's Niamh Whelan progressed through to this evening's 200m semi-finals (6pm Irish time) as a fastest loser. The 20-year-old, competing in her first European Championships, ran 23.78 for fourth in her heat, and on current form is the fifth fastest of her semi-final field. Three will go through automatically, along with two fastest losers.

Deirdre Ryan from Dublin was two centimetres away from earning a place in the high jump final. She finished ninth in her qualifying group, leaping to a season's best of 1.90 metres.

There will be three Irish athletes in final action tonight - Paul Hession goes in the 200m final at 6.25pm Irish time, Fionnuala Britton lines up in the 3000m steeplechase final (7.25pm) and David Gillick, the most likely to claim a medal, has been drawn in lane four in the 400m final (8.25pm).

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