O'Rourke surpasses all expectations

Wed, Aug 19, 2009, 01:00

Athletics:A historic day in Irish athletics was capped off this evening by stunning performance from Derval O’Rourke in the 100m hurdles final in Berlin, where the Cork woman ran a national record of 12.67secs to finish fourth in the world.

The Leevale athlete was “gutted not to have won a medal” afterwards, but three short hours ago a final appearance was the prize when she squeezed in as one of the two fastest losers from the semis.

“I had absolutely no idea where I was because I was in lane one,” she told the BBC after pipping Olympic silver medallist Sally McLellan to fourth.

“It’s a new national record, fourth in the world. I can’t really complain.

"I've had so many bad days so I can take this and smile," she added.

O’Rourke started brilliantly again, for third time in Berlin, and jumped effortlessly early on, but there were five Olympic finalists in the star-studded field and while it can be lost in the first 50 it's won in the second.

In lane four, 34-year-old Brigitte Foster-Hylton of Jamaica emerged strongly, with Canada’s Priscilla Lope-Schlieb on her shoulder and compatriot Delloreen Ennis-London a close third.

America’s Dawn Harper was expected to feature but she hit a hurdle early on and never recovered - as did Perdita Felicien of Canada - leaving McLellan and O’Rourke to battle for fourth.

The Australian looked to have the edge prior to the last but the 28-year-old Irishwoman remained focused, jumped it perfectly and showed better technique on the sprint home to steal into fourth – 0.16secs behind Foster-Hylton.

David Gillick made his own bit of history earlier today when he ran big race to go where no Irishman has before, producing a time of 44.88 to ensure he’ll be on track for Friday’s 400m final.

It wasn’t quite a personal best for the Ballinteer athlete, whose Irish record stands at 44.77, but it was good enough for fourth in the first of three semi-finals and ended up as the sixth fastest time of the eight eventual finalists.

Two-time defending champion Jeremy Wariner set the pace, leading Britain's Michael Bingham, France's Leslie Djhone and Gillick home in a time of 44.70.

Gillick was consistent throughout, gradually easing up on the shoulder of Australian Joel Milburn and turning into the home straight with only Wariner out of touch.

The Irishman dug in to convincingly hold off the challenge of Ramon Miller of the Bahamas and claim fourth behind the strong finishing Djhone and Bingham.

Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt raised the bar in the second heat with a time of 44.37 and was closely followed home by Remi Quow (44.53) as the rest trailed in their wake. The third semi was the slowest and saw Chris Brown of the Bahamas and Tabarie Henry finish outside Gillick's effort.

Paul Hession took to the track after both his compatriots reached their finals and gamely tried to repeat the trick in the 200m semi-final but his time of 20.48 was only good enough for sixth.

Hession ran in the second semi after Usain Bolt blitzed the field in the first. The Athenry man was in lane eight and had America's Wallace Spearmon and Jamaican Steve Mullings to contend with.

Mullings was a little eager to get away and false started to put the pressure on the whole field. He was predictably slower out of the blocks at the second time of asking and Spearmon cruised into control.

Hession battled hard on the outside and ran 20.40, improving on his heats time by 0.08, but he was always straining to stay in touch as Spearmon led Mullings and fellow American Charles Clark home.

Marlon Devonish, Britain's only representative after the withdrawals of Dwain Chambers and trials winner Toby Sandeman, finished a disappointing seventh.

Bolt looked ominous as he moved a step closer to achieving the sprint double.

The Jamaican sensation, who broke his own 100m world record at the weekend to win gold with a stunning run of 9.58 seconds, hardly broke sweat against the lack of realistic challenge and claimed an easy win ahead of Panama's Alonso Edward.

His time of 20.08 was comfortably the fastest of the eight qualifiers, which also includes American Olympic silver medallist Shawn Crawford.