Frustrating night for Hession in Helsinki


Athletics:A rainy night in Helsinki, not ideal conditions for championship performances, but no excuses from Paul Hession after his 200 metres final at European Championships. It wasn’t just the track being slippery when wet but running in lane one was always going to present an added challenge – and so it proved as Hession came home eighth, his 21.27 seconds some distance off his season best.

Yet again the tight bend proved treacherous – more so given the rain – and Hession again stepped wide, but not so as to impede the athlete outside him. With Churandy Martina from the Netherlands defending his title in 20.42 – into a slight headwind – and Britain’s Daniel Talbot taking third in a fairly ordinary 20.95, Hession still considered Helsinki “good prep” for the London Olympics, not just a month away.

At least his lane infringement didn’t result in any disqualification – which turned out to be the order of the night for both the men’s and women’s 4x400 metre relay. The women’s team were looking for some additional cement to secure their Olympic qualifying position – but it wasn’t to be, their 3:32.43 in the semi-final not improving their current ranking of 12th, with the top 16 being invited to London.

Worse still they were later disqualified for stepping outside the exchange zone in the final changeover: they’d run quite well, and while Claire Bergin faded at the end of the opening leg, Joanne Cuddihy produced a storming second leg, moving from seventh to third – her speed around the top bend quite astonishing. Marian Heffernan held on to that third place, before Michelle Carey was passed by the Romanians and Belarus in the last 100 metres, and so they ended up fifth – with Ukraine taking the win in 3:29.09.

For the men’s 4x400m relay team – with Brian Murphy starting, followed by David Gillick, Timmy Crowe and Jason Harvey – finishing eighth and last in their semi-final, in a very average 3:12.63, couldn’t have got any worse, except that again it did, when they were later disqualified for TWO lane infringements (one in Crowe’s changeover, and also Harvey, around the final bend).

The men’s 10,000m final was typically demanding, and Mark Kenneally hung tough, but with 10 of the 25 laps to go the leading bunch had broken clear – and as Kemboi Arikan, the Kenyan disguised as a Turk, took the title in 28:22.27, Kennelly finished 15th – still good preparations for his Olympic marathon in a few weeks’ time.

David Rooney had a brave run in his first senior championships and finished 21st in a season’s best of 29:57.82.

Stephanie Reilly struggled to repeat her qualifying performance in the 3,000m steeplechase final, finishing a little disappointed in 12th, running 9:53.90 – with Turkey’s Gulcan Mingir brilliantly defending her title in 9:32.96.

The morning session had three Irish 1,500m entrants – all making their senior European debut – although qualifying for the final proved a step too far for all three. Paul Robinson finished ninth in his semi-final, the 21 year-old clocking 3.47.26, just over a second outside of making the final.

Ciara Mageean, just 20, and Orla Drumm both finished a disappointing 12th, Mageean clearly not at her best when running 4:19.23 (and was physically sick afterwards) while Drumm gave herself every chance but suffered on the last lap, finishing in 4:19.61.

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