DAVID GILLICK put down a marker when he cruised up the home straight to win yesterday’s first round heat of the men’s 400m at the Olympic Stadium in 45.84 secs.
That was not the fastest run of the day — that distinction fell to Britain’s American-born runner Michael Bingham, who won his heat in 45.49.
Gold medal favourite Jonathan Borlee (Belgium), 45.91, his brother, Kevin 45.71, and Vladimir Krasnov (Russia) 46.07, all won their heats, while Gillick’s training partner, Martyn Rooney (Great Britain), 45.72, claimed his semi-final place behind Kevin Borlee.
And there was a late, late surprise for Gordon Kennedy from Tullamore who left the Mixed Zone thinking he had failed to get through after finishing sixth behind Kevin Borlee in the first heat only to discover he had got one of the four places allocated to the fastest losers.
“I just wanted to get the first one out of the way,” said Gillick, who has been maintaining a low profile. “It’s an early start. You’re up early, you’ve got to get your breakfast, you’re on the bus, you’re straight down to warm up. You just want to get that out of the way. I’m glad the first round is done.”
He did it to perfection, reacting second fastest to the gun, closing up quickly on the competitors in the lanes outside, storming into the lead on the crown of the bend and then cruising the finishing straight.
“I did what I needed to do,” he said. “I got out, stayed relaxed, kinda picked it up a little bit up the back straight, but, on the bend, I glanced around to see where I was and coming into the home straight I just had a look to make sure I stayed ahead and won it”.
He kept a close eye on the opposition in the other heats: “They (Rooney and Borlee) look smooth. I expected that, so it’s nothing strange.
“The semi-final is going to be tough as well. We have a day off in between (semi-finals and final). Today was the day when you try and conserve as much as possible. The semi-finals — you can’t wait around, you can’t look at anyone else. You’ve just got to put the blinkers on and off you go.”
Kennedy ran a solid first 200m to put himself into the best possible position on the bend but he tied up over the last 50m and held on for sixth place in 46.53, which eventually got him through.
“Right now it’s just where I want to be,” he said. “Get it together, push on the next half a second. Whether I can go faster is another thing but I really believe I can.”
Brian Gregan, on the physio’s table most of the season, appeared to have automatic qualification at his mercy coming off the bend, but Piotr Klimczak (Poland) came through on the inside to claim the place.
Ireland had three athletes in the women’s 400m hurdles but all failed to make an impression. Michelle Carey finished fifth in a seasonal best 57.l58 secs but was way off qualification, while Justine Kinney was last in her heat in 57.39 and Brona Furlong was seventh in her heat in 58.13.
Kelly Proper, who has been having difficulty with some of the technical aspects of her jumping, failed to register a mark in the qualification rounds of the women’s long jump but, nevertheless, came away happy she is going in the right direction.
“One foul was pretty obvious but the other two were close. They were good jumps so I have to be happy that I am going in the right direction,” she said.
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