THE fallout from David Gillick’s disappointing performance in the 400m final on Friday night may have cost the Irish men’s 4x400m relay team a place in yesterday’s final and possible qualification for next year’s world championships in Korea.
Both Irish women’s relay teams broke their national records with scintillating runs in the Olympic Stadium on Saturday morning, qualifying for the worlds in Daegu.
But Gillick’s decision not to compete meant Irish team manager, Patsy McGonagle, had to call on the services of the 19-year-old Mullingar man, Steven Colvert, to complete the side.
McGonagle revealed: “I spoke to David a few times on Friday night and I also discussed the matter with his coach, Nick Dakin, but the situation is that he was unable to run.
“It’s unfortunate for the team because of the opportunities available but I called Steven Colvert late Friday night and he made himself available.”
He tried to contact 800m runner, David McCarthy but he was already at Barcelona Airport on his way home.
Colvert from Mullingar who competed in the first round heats of the men’s 200m thought the text message he received around midnight was part or an elaborate hoax.
Despite the short notice the UCD student responded with a 48.27 anchor leg in only his second 400m.
Gordon Kennedy opened up with a 46.52 first leg, Brian Murphy (UCC AC) made a major contribution with a 46.05 second leg and Brian Gregan hung on for a 46.37 third to set young Colvert up. But the depleted Irish team had to settle for sixth place in 3:07.21.
“It was a massive effort,” Kennedy insisted. “We did everything we could. We only found out at midnight that he team had been changed and that was a huge disappointment. But we rocked on the 4 x 4 men stepped on to the line and we gave it everything.
“Stephen Colvert got that text last night and, boy, did he do Ireland proud.
“To step out as a team and achieve like that in the face of what we had to do is fantastic.
“If we had David Gillick out there we would have broken the Irish record, qualified for the final and then we would have broken it again on Sunday. It is very disappointing.”
Colvert admitted he was nervous competing in the event. “When I got the text last night I thought it was a joke at first. I have never trained for a 400m and I have just done one 400m race for Crusaders in the leagues. I see this as a baptism of fire but you’d never know, I could have a future at 400m.”
The women’s relay teams just missed out on qualification for Sunday’s finals but they had the satisfaction of smashing the Irish record in both instances and achieving the qualifying standards for next year’s worlds.
The 4x100m team of Amy Foster, Niamh Whelan, Claire Brady and Ailis McSweeney finished fourth in their heat in 43.93 smashing the Irish record which Claire Brady, Derval O’Rourke, Niamh Whelan and Kelly Proper set at 44.27 in Geneva last month.
“We are delighted. We broke the national record and qualified for the world championships and just missed out on the final,” Ailish McSweeney said.
A battling performance from the 4x400m team earned them fifth place in 3:30.11 which was well inside the old record set by Michelle Carey, Elaine McCaffrey, Ciara Sheehy and Joanne Cuddihy in Prague four years ago.
Marian Andrews assured herself of a place in the Irish team for Daegu alongside her race walker husband, Robert Heffernan, with a 53.51 first leg that was followed by a 51.25 leg from Cuddihy, 53.25 from Brona Furlong and a 52.10 anchor leg from Michelle Carey.
“We broke the national record and that was the aim,” Andrews said. “Whether or not we got through to the final was always going to depend on how the other teams ran but qualifying for the world championships was a huge bonus.”
Cuddihy said: “I think this is a really promising team. All of us could do with some more relay experience. Obviously it would be nice to have another run tomorrow. I still think we can be a really good relay team.”
On Saturday night Cragg jogged off the track 3,300m into the final of the men’s 5,000m.
He also dropped out of the final in Gothenburg four years earlier when he appeared to be heading for victory.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved