Thomas Barr is set for some new challenges in 2019 with his first major indoor championships on the horizon and a distinct possibility of building on his medal success in Berlin last summer.
Barr ended an 84-year wait for an Irish male sprint medal at an outdoor major championships when securing bronze in the 400m hurdles in the European Athletics Championship in Berlin last August.
Training has gone well since a well-earned rest and he is now looking forward to a tilt at the European Athletics Indoor Championships at the start of March.
“Training has gone really well the last couple of months since I got back,” said Barr speaking at the announcement yesterday that Irish Life Health will continue as Athletics Ireland’s title sponsor.
“I took a couple of weeks off after Berlin and I’ve kind of just been building really well,” continued Barr with an extra tincture of bronze from his training camp in Tenerife.
“I’m just back from a two-week training camp in Tenerife.
It was nice to get away, especially just after Christmas, and get straight back into training focusing solely on athletics in the warmth.
“I could get some technical work done that we wouldn’t have been able to do here on the track and get some hurdling done as well.”
The athletics season is longer this year with the World Championships in Doha at the end of September which opens up the opportunity for Barr to have a competitive indoor season.
“Because Doha is so late we’ll actually have plenty of time coming out of an indoor season to actually still prepare properly for a full outdoor season leading up to Doha which is a month or six weeks later than normally for a major championships.”
Before that Barr will take on the rarely run 400m hurdles indoors at the AAI Games in the national indoor arena on February 2nd.
He took to social media in a bid to have some hurdles modified for the event and got some speedy assistance from his local club, Ferrybank.
“I was putting out on twitter and Instagram a message a couple of days ago looking for some hurdles to modify because we’re hoping to do a 400m hurdles indoors here (Sport Ireland National Indoor Arena).
The lanes are narrower indoors so we need to modify them. That will kick off the indoor season with a bit of craic, no pressure and it will be something interesting to watch.
From there he will run the 400m at the AIT International Grand Prix on February 13, then the national championships that weekend to secure European qualification.
“I might look for more (races) but I’ll probably stick with those two and try and get a couple of fast 400s done,” said Barr.
“It will be the first time doing an indoors where I’m going to a championships and I love championships. And I’m hoping it will bring out the best in me in the flat 400.”
It awaits to be seen how steep the competition will be with Barr admitting “I have no idea” as to who he expects to face in contention.
David Gillick famously won the 400m twice at the European Indoors in 2005 and 2007 and it’s a realistic chance for Barr to add a second major medal to his CV