Phil Healy has become the first Irish athlete for eight years to make progress at a World Indoor Athletics Championships,
The Bandon AC sprinter went through in third place from her first-round heat to qualify for tonight’s semi-finals of the women’s 400 metres in Birmingham.
Healy - who took over 1.1 seconds off her 400m lifetime best at the end of January in Vienna – started on the outside in lane six, and hit the front at the bell of her two-lap opener at Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena, ahead of Jamaican Stephanie-Ann McPherson and Britain’s Eilidh Doyle.
The Corkwoman began to tie up in the closing straight however, and was overtaken before the line by both McPherson and Doyle, who took the two automatic qualifying spots.
The Jamaican’s winning time of 52.18 was a season’s best, with Doyle clocking 52.31, and Healy on 52.75 holding off Slovakia’s Alexandra Bezekova to go through in third as the fastest loser across all six heats.
Healy’s time was the ninth fastest overall, and faster than four of the earlier automatic qualifiers.
Speaking afterwards, she told Athletics Ireland: “It was going to be a testing first 200 metres with Eilidh and Stephanie McPherson inside her as well.
“I knew it was going to be quick. I could feel them on the top bend coming inside my shoulder so I had to push for that break first, because it’s really hard to pass on this track.
“The bends are wide, and the straights are short.
“If I didn’t get to the bell first, I knew it was going to cost me so I took it out, ended up going through really quick, but I knew I had the speed.
Healy is the first ever Irish woman to reach a 400m semi-final at a World Indoors, and after three blank World Indoors from an Irish point of view with elimination at the first round for every athlete at Istanbul 2012, Sopot 2014 and Portland 2016, is the first Irish athlete since David Gillick and Claire Brady at the 2010 Championships in Doha to get past the opening round.
It’s also only the second time since Derval O’Rourke’s 2006 world gold that this has been achieved at a World Indoors.
Healy’s semi-final is on tonight at 8:45pm Irish time, where only the top two from her semi will automatically qualify.
Lane 1 for Phil Healy in the SF. Tough lane draw but it ain’t over. Good news is that 2 auto Q and not a fastest loser scenario for -> Final. It’s worlds. It’s indoors. It’s tactics. 💩 happens. People do stupid things. #DepthsOfHell #BonusTerritory #Braveheart pic.twitter.com/yRszvpEdVl— Club TLG (@ClubTLG) March 2, 2018
Ciara Mageean is in 1500m semi-final action at 7:58pm.
Earlier, Amy Foster and Ciara Neville bowed out in the heats of the women’s 60m.
Foster was fifth in her heat in 7.35, Neville seventh in her’s in 7.47, as wins were taken by Marie-Josée Ta Lou (7.17) and Norwegian Ezinne Okparaebo (7.22) respectively.
Cork's Phil Healy will run in this evening's women's 400-metres semi-final at the World Indoor Championships.
The Bandon clubwoman became the first Irish athlete since David Gillick in 2010 to advance from a heat at the worlds - advancing as one of the fastest losers.
Healy finished third in her heat at the Championships in Birmingham and led from the bell but fell back in the closing stages.
Ciara Neville and Amy Foster have missed out on places in the semi-finals of the 60-metres at the World Indoor Athletics Championships in Birmingham.
Foster was fifth in her heat in 7.35 seconds while Neville was 10th of a second slower in finishing seventh in her heat.
Phil Healy goes in the women's 400-metres heats at lunchtime.
2016 European outdoor medalist Ciara Magaeen has her 1500-metres heat this evening.