PAUL HESSION was left struggling for an explanation as he watched a replay of the final of the men’s 200m at the European championships in Barcelona’s Olympic Stadium last night after he faded down the home straight to finish sixth in a disappointing time of 20.71 secs.
The time should not have been disappointing in the context of the other times to emerge from the race. The 20-year-old Frenchman, Christophe Lemaitre, repeated the sprint double achieved by Francis Obikwelu in Gothenburg four years ago in 20.37 secs, which was modest by his standards but good enough to edge out Christian Malcolm (Great Britain) who had to settle for silver, just 100th of a second behind, with the bronze going to the other Frenchman in the race, Martial Mbandjock.
That result alone should have left Hession scratching his head for he has beaten both Malcolm and Mbandjock in the past but this time he could only watch from behind as they fought it out for the medals up front.
And the disappointing aspect of it all was that he had put himself in the best possible position coming into the finishing straight having run one of his best bends of the season.
Uncharacteristically his finish let him down this time.
“It was a funny old race, actually,” he said. “I worked really hard on the bend because I wanted to be in contention and that was the only way of doing it, especially from Lane 2.
“I feel I did that okay and I think I was in a reasonably good position and I felt for moment like I was taking (Marlon Devonish) – I was coming back at him – and then I don’t know what happened. He just went away again. I tried to stay relaxed because I think I wasn’t relaxed enough yesterday.
“Although the time was slower I thought I ran better today. The wind was actually really strong out there – it only came up as 0.8 but I was aware of it the whole way.
“I am not going to be as hard on myself this year because I was bad enough last year but I know I have done everything I could do and I have come up short. I’ll just have to go back and start again.
“I feel I was challenging for the bronze medal 60m out but there was definitely something missing in the last 50 metres in both my semi and my final. When that extra gear was to be called upon it just seemed to not be there today or yesterday and I’m not sure why.
“I think today I actually ran a better race even though the time was slower. The last 50 was disappointing but I needed to work the bend because I needed to be in some sort of position coming off it. There was no point trying to even it out because I would have been way too far behind.
“In 07/08 I was in the top three and last year I was in fourth position. On the times this year I was sixth after that final. I’ve run up to where I have been ranked this year but it’s not enough. You want more.
“I have put a lot of work into this. I don’t know what else I could have done. I have been two years waiting for this race. Last year I felt was a preparation year for this and next year will be preparation for the Olympics. From that point of view it is disappointing to go out there and run disappointing times and get beaten by guys I have beaten before.
“It’s two years to the Olympics and I can be in that final in London. It is virtually a home Olympics for Ireland – it’s as close as we’ll ever get to having an Olympics and having an Irishman in the final. That should be enough motivation for me to train next year.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved