DAVID GILLICK was one of the victims as last night’s 400m final turned the form book upside down and the lesser-known of the two Borlee brothers, Kevin, stormed to victory at the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona.
The Irishman said he was gutted and he was not the only one in that situation as he found himself just .05 secs away from a medal yet the records will show that he only finished fifth in 45.24 secs.
Borlee, 45.08, was a clear if not emphatic winner but an arm’s length separated the next four runners and the raging hot favourite, Kevin Borlee’s more fancied brother, Jonathan, who set a new Belgian record record at 44.71 secs in the semi-finals was at the tail end of that rush to the line in 45.35 secs.
Of even more significance, from Gillick’s point of view, was that Michael Bingham, who he had beaten in the semi-final, held on from Lane 8 to take the silver medal and Gillick’s training partner, Martyn Rooney, ran the race of his life from Lane 1 to snatch bronze.
Gillick, who was fourth on the bend, rallied in the last 50 metres and as he fell across the line it appeared as if he might have snatched something from the jaws of despair but that was not to be.
“That was my race, that was my chance to get on the podium,” he said. “I don’t think it was ever going to be a quick race after the performances in the semi-finals. It was an absolute mess of a race.
“I never got into a rhythm. I was a fraction sluggish out of the blocks, didn’t get fluent down the back straight and I was a little bit all over the place.
“Coming around the bend everyone was together – everyone was together and it was so close – maybe if I had five more metres I might have just nipped in. I was .05 away from a medal but within that .05 there was three other guys. It is 400m and not 405m.
“I am getting frustrated. Of all the last number of championships I have been so close, so close. You put so much in and I don’t think I got any of it back tonight.
“I was fighting and fighting and I think that was the problem. That’s what I said after the semi-final, once you go tense it’s ‘good luck’ and I got tense. But I think everyone got tense. It was one of those races. The form book was out the window when you look at who medalled.
“But that’s championship running and I have to hand it to the guys. Rooney ran well from Lane 1 and got a medal and that’s what it’s all about. I’m just disappointed for myself, disappointed for everyone. I am just gutted.
“I did not feel there was any pressure on me. I was dealing with it fine. It was just one of those things. Maybe it was just a bit of tiredness in the head mentally. I can’t stand here and give an answer. It was just one of those races. It was so close, so tight and unfortunately I tensed up and maybe Jonathan Borlee tensed up as well.
“I think going into the 200m mark I was a couple of metres down and then, when I realised where I was, instead of staying relaxed I just tensed up a little bit and then I was just trying to chase.”
Kevin Borlee, twin brother of Jonathan, the pre-race favourite, went into the race with the same pb as Gillick, 44.77 secs, and comes from a family with a big sprinting tradition.
Their father, Jacques, is a former international 400m runner and seven uncles and their mother were, also sprinters. Their elder sister, Olivia, made to the semi-finals of the 200m here and won a silver medal as a member of the Belgian 4 x 100m relay team at the Beijing Olympics.
It was Belgium’s first medal at the European championships since 1994 in Helsinki when Vincent Rosseau finished second in the 5,000m and their last gold medal was in Helsinki in 1971 when Karel Lismont won the marathon.
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