In-form Ó Lionáird and Gregan look serious contenders for honours


ATHLETICS:As relaxed and cool as they both seem about it, both Ciarán Ó Lionáird and Brian Gregan are now serious contenders for European Indoors honours here in Gothenburg, the gold medal itself well within their reach.

That they happen to be roommates in the Irish team hotel – suited directly above the Gothenburg’s Scandinavium Arena – has perhaps added to their mood, but Ó Lionáird, whose 3,000 metres final is first up this evening, is unquestionably in the form of his life.

“Well I just felt I’d a longer stride than most of those guys, and wanted to make the most of it,” he said of his finishing kick, which saw him win his heat in 7:55.12, displaying a burst of speed over the last lap that looked both brilliantly impressive and suitably comfortable.

“And I suppose for me, coming up from the 1,500m, it probably looked easy. But it was pretty controlled. Then I’ve been here since Monday, just been waiting around really, and having that race behind me will suit, should leave me feeling even better for the final.”

Truth is Ó Lionáird will have to run better again, with Hayle Ibrahimov, the former Ethiopian now representing Azerbaijan, running away with the second heat in 7:50.55, clearly a major challenger for the gold medal: “I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him stretch it out,” agreed Ó Lionáird. “But then I can only control my own race.”

Ó Lionáird, still only 24, has got himself back into superb physical shape. Despite his cruel experience in London, or perhaps because of it, he now sports the Olympic rings, tattooed onto his left shoulder blade, and a Native American Indian Chief on his right shoulder. He still brings an old-school approach to the game, still revealing (or often tweeting) his carefree attitude, which he feels sits comfortably with his deadly seriousness.

Gregan, at age 23, shares this attitude, which also disguises a ruthless competitive streak. He won his 400m heat, the first of four, in 46.97, the only concern with that being his easing up before the line, which nearly cost him one of the automatic qualifying places.

Gregan must now deal with this afternoon’s semi-finals, before thinking about a medal, and probably drew the easier of the two. Starting 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.

“I went out in the first round in Paris, two years ago,” added Gregan, “so that’s already my best indoor championship performance. I’ll be treating the semi-final exactly the same, making sure I do everything right . . .”

No such joy for Stephen Scullion, who bravely tried to make the 3,000m final alongside Ó Lionáird, but was just run out of it – his 8:00.78 losing out by one place. John Travers finished a very tired looking 11th in his heat, clocking 8:23.83. Clare Tarplee ran well in her 1,500 metre heat, clocking 4:15.16 for fourth, but outside qualification as was Tori Pena (pole vault) who only managed to clear the entry height of 4.16m.


11:25 - 3,000m (2 heats) - Fionnuala Britton

12:35 - 60m (4 heats) - Amy Foster

15:55 - 400m men’s (2 semi finals) – Brian Gregan

16:30 - 800m women’s (2 semi finals) - Ciara Everard, Rose Anne Galligan

17:10 - 3,000m final - Ciarán Ó Lionáird


10:45 - 800m women’s final

11:00 - 400m men’s final

11:10 - 3,000m women’s final

15:30 - 60m women’s (2 semi finals)

17:15 - 60m women’s final

Sign In

Forgot Password?

Sign Up

The name that will appear beside your comments.

Have an account? Sign In

Forgot Password?

Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In or Sign Up

Thank you

You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.

Hello, .

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

Thank you for registering. Please check your email to verify your account.

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.