“Fingers crossed” was the message from Derval O’Rourke for today’s semi-finals and final as she battled through her world indoor 60m hurdles heat and a suspect starting gun as a fastest loser in 8.19 seconds at the Atakoy Stadium in Istanbul.
Although the Leevale athlete was only fourth in her heat, there was still plenty to be positive about last night as she goes into the semi-finals as joint eighth fastest overall.
Indeed her heat was the hardest, with red-hot favourite Sally Pearson winning in 7.85 — the only athlete to break eight seconds on the day.
O’Rourke’s heat was the first race of the afternoon programme and there was an issue with the starting gun which continued right through the day and saw some high profile casualties as a result.
“I thought there was a false start and so did the other girls in the race” said O’Rourke. “It upset me a little but I battled through it.”
Pearson agreed: “There was a lot of hesitation at the start and there was an echo with a sound of two guns.”
There are two semi-finals (3.10pm Irish time) with the first four in each going through to the final at 5.45pm Irish time. O’Rourke is drawn again with Pearson.
Ireland’s other main hope, Ciaran Ó Lionaird, crashed out of the men’s 1500m heats in a pedestrian 3:50.12 and was unavailable for comment after the race.
Ó Lionaird was in contention with 600m remaining but was unable to move up through the pack and drifted off at the finish. His heat was won by Kenyan-born Turk Ilham Tanui Ozbilen in 3:41.93.
This was a very disappointing run from Ó Lionaird and, having been in such good form coming into the race, it is difficult to fathom.
There was great excitement in the stadium as an enthralling battle in the women’s pentathlon unfolded, with Jessica Ennis being edged out of the gold spot by Natallia Dobrynska of the Ukraine in a new world record of 5,013 points.
Ennis was trailing going into the 800m, the final event, which she won in 2:08.09. Initially it came up on the big screen that she had won but that was soon corrected to Dobrynska, which queued embarrassment from Ennis as she had already started celebrating.
The other highlight of day one was a high-quality men’s shot put competition which was won by Ryan Whiting of the USA with a massive 22m.
Ben Reynolds competes in the men’s 60m hurdles at 7:40am Irish time but our hopes and fortunes rest again with O’Rourke.
She will be looking to provide a delight for the Irish in Turkey as she looks to add another championship medal to her already bulging trophy cabinet. If she can get anywhere close to her best she surely will.
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