Early start for Loughnane in chase for Euro glory

OLIVE LOUGHNANE gets the programme under way in the women’s 20k walk at 7.05am (Irish time) when she faces a field of just 23 in her quest to add a European Championship medal to her world championship medal and only Sonia O’Sullivan and Eamonn Coghlan have done that in outdoor competition before.

The field may be smaller than usual but, unlike the men’s 20k, there are no major defections with Olga Kaskina (Russia) favourite to add another gold medal to her Olympic and two world championships medals.

Beatriz Pascual (Spain) who finished ahead of her in La Caruna is included along with Vera Santos and Ines Henriques from Portugal, who were third and fourth, are included.

Derval O’Rourke arrived in Barcelona last evening in time for this morning’s heats of the women’s 100m, in which training partner and Leevale clubmate, Ailis McSweeney, features.

McSweeney goes in the first heat (9.40am Irish time) with the Norwegian champion Ezinne Okparaebo, who has a seasonal best of 11.26 and Yuna Mekhti-Zade (Russia) 11.28. The first three in each heat go through along with the four fastest losers.

Fionnuala Britton, a finalist in Beijing, goes in the second semi-final of the women’s steeplechase with her Sli Cualann clubmate, Stephanie O’Reilly in the first heat. Four will go through to the final with the four fastest losers.

David McCarthy goes in first-round heats of the men’s 800m (11.10am). He is in heat 3 of four with the first three and four fastest losers to go through to the semi-finals.

In better times Joanne Cuddihy would line up for the women’s 400m with aspirations after a spell down under where she won the Australian and New Zealand championships races.

She returned home hoping to improve on her seasonal best of 51.94 secs but has spent most of her time recovering from prolonged injury. She goes in the third semi-final of the women’s 400m this evening (5.35pm) with the first two in each of three to qualify, along with the two fastest losers.

Thomas Chamney (Crusaders AC) goes in the second semi-final of the men’s 1,500m this evening (7.40pm) where a battling performance will see him earn automatic qualification with the first four from each semi and the four fastest losers going through. On seasonal performances, he is second fastest.

American-born Tori Pena will make her first championship appearance for Ireland when she goes in the women’s pole vault (9.30am Irish time).

David Gillick goes into this evening’s 400m semi-final heats as the fastest man in the field with a prime lane draw with Michael Bingham (Great Britain) the only obvious danger. Thanks to their first-round victories, both Gillick and Bingham secured perfect lane draws. Bingham, who ran the fastest time of the day, gets Lane 4, with Gillick in Lane 6 and one of three French qualifiers, Teddy Venel, sandwiched between them.

If Gillick could afford himself the luxury of surveying the opposition yesterday morning he will have to go all out to stave off Bingham who has a slight advantage on the inside to secure a good lane for Friday’s final.

“In the semi-finals, you can’t look at anyone else,” he said. “You’ve just got to put the blinkers on and off you go.”

With a seasonal best of 45.95 run on the same track, Gillick is fastest in his semi-final which also includes Petros Kiriakidis (Greece), 45.65, Maksim Dyldin (Russia), 45.81, Kacper Kozlowski (Poland), 45.84, Bingham, 45.08, Venel, 45.92, Arnaud Destatte (Belgium), 56.28, and Marco Vistalli (Italy), 45.95.

Martyn Rooney, Gillick’s training partner, drew Lane 6 in the first semi-final which also includes favourite, Jonathan Borlee, in Lane 4, and Leslie Djhone (France), who has silver and bronze as well as relay gold from previous championships, in Lane 5.

Gordon Kennedy will line up in Lane 1 for the third semi-final.

The first two in each of the three semi-finals will go through to Friday’s final with two fastest losers.


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