Saturday night may have brought about an air of gloom over the London Stadium, but Irish eyes were smiling once again at the World Championships yesterday after an array of strong performances.
Leevale’s Claire McCarthy defied her age and ranking to finish 33rd of the 91 athletes in the women’s marathon in 2:38:26, and the 41-year-old mother of four was understandably elated afterwards.
“I have to be happy,” said Walsh, who is coached by former Olympic marathoner Donie Walsh. “The last half was really tough when your body is screaming at you, but it was about looking up the road and seeing who was coming back.
“I had the best build-up in a long time and I have the best training partners with Leevale I could wish for. The support has been amazing. I fell into tears at times because the atmosphere was absolutely incredible.”
The men’s race delivered contrasting fortunes for the Irish, with Mick Clohisey an excellent 22nd in 2:16:21, an event won by Kenya’s Geoffrey Kirui in 2:08:27.
“I’m happy to get myself back on track with a strong, solid performance,” said Clohisey. “The atmosphere was something else with all the Irish out there — it brings you forward when you’re going through those crowds. I had to be happy with that. It’s about time I did something decent in the Irish vest.”
There was heartbreak, though, for Seán Hehir, who struggled to a 63rd-place finish in 2:27:33. The 32-year-old Clare man vomited several times afterwards and admitted he had difficulty holding down drinks during the race.
“Championship running throws curveballs at you,” he said. “I knew 15K in I wasn’t feeling as good as I should. The support out there was incredible, but I feel like I let myself down and the flag down. I really hope it’s not going to be my last opportunity to run for Ireland.”
Brian Gregan brought a successful weekend to an inevitable close in the semi-finals of the men’s 400m last night, the 27-year-old Dubliner coming home sixth in 45.42 in a race won by Olympic champion Wayde van Niekerk in 44.22.
“It was tough,” said Gregan. “I had the best guys in the world around me. It was like an Olympic final but I ran as much of my own race as I could. I finished 19th in the world, so I’m fairly satisfied.”
Thomas Barr is the sole Irish interest today after the 25-year-old Waterford man finished fourth in his heat of the 400m hurdles yesterday in 49.79. In a race won by TJ Holmes of the US in 49.35, Barr initially crossed the line fifth, outside the automatic qualification spots, but despair soon turned to relief when favourite Kyron Mcmaster was disqualified for a lane infringement, upgrading Barr to fourth.
“I’m really disappointed with that even though I’m getting through on a disqualification,” said Barr. “At least I’ve given myself another bite of the cherry. I know where I can make up time. I’ll build myself up and go again.”
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