O'Rourke cruelly denied in final
Brian Gregan on his way to winning his heat of the men's 400 metres at the European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Athletics: Derval O'Rourke so nearly capped an almost perfect day for Ireland at the European Indoor Championships but a season best time in the 60m hurdle final left her in fourth by 0.01 seconds.
O’Rourke improved steadily throughout the day, having qualified in second from her heat this morning in a time of 8.05 before booking a final berth with an 8.00 run.
She knocked a further 0.05 off in the final from lane two, but was denied by then slimmest of margins as Alina Talay of Belarus and Veronica Borsi of Italy both posted 7.94 to take silver and bronze respectively behind firm favourite and the Corkwoman’s old nemesis Nevin Yanit of Turkey (7.89).
O’Rourke, World Indoor champion seven years ago, was fourth in Paris two years ago, having won bronze in Turin in 2009.
A happier ending would have nicely book-ended an otherwise encouraging day from an Irish perspective.
Both Ciarán Ó Lionáirdand Brian Greganconfirmed their medal intentions at the Scandinavium Arena this morning, while Ciara Everard and Rose Anne Galligan impressed when they began the evening session by making tomorrow's 800m semi-finals with wins in their respective heats.
Ó Lionáird and Gregan can look forward to tomorrow afternoon’s session knowing they may well be in the best shape of their lives.
“The heats are not about taking any chances, not putting yourself under any stress,” said Ó Lionáird, after winning his 3,000 metres heat in 7:55.12, with a burst of speed over the last lap that looked both brilliantly impressive and suitably comfortable.
“Well I felt I’d a longer stride than most of those guys, and just wanted to make the most of it,” he added, although he will now face an interesting battle with Hayle Ibrahimov, the former Ethiopian now running for Azerbaijan, who ran away with the second heat in 7:50.55, and looks the biggest challenge when it comes to deciding the gold medal.
Gregan won his 400m heat, the first of four, in 46.97, the only slight concern about that being his easing up before the line, which nearly cost him one of the automatic qualifying places.
“No, I didn’t really think they were that close,” said Gregan. “There’s usually a screen, but there was nothing here. I was just trying to conserve as much energy as I could, but to win too, was really the main thing.”
He must now traverse tomorrow’s semi-finals before thinking about a medal, and he probably drew the easier of the two: drawn in the favourable outside lane, he faces reigning European outdoor champion Pavel Maslak, who won his heat in 46.54, but has avoided the British number one Richard Strachan, and the Russian danger man Pavel Trenikhin.