European Athletics Championships: Shanahan and 4x400m relay team qualify for Saturday finals

Leevale runner holds on for third in semi-final but men’s 4x100m drop the baton in their heat

Louise Shanahan produced a stunning run to qualify for the final of the women’s 800m at the European Championships in Munich.

Running in a stacked semi-final that featured gold medal favourite and Olympic silver medalist Keely Hodgkinson of Britain, Shanahan held on down the back straight to finish in third with a time of 2:01:15 and qualify automatically for Saturday evening’s final.

Running in lane four alongside Hodgkinson, Shanahan started quickly as the first 200m were run at a good pace. By the time she took the bell, the race had slowed down with the first lap completed beyond the 60 second mark. Shanahan was in fourth at that point.

The Cork runner made her move down the back straight to avoid being boxed in as Hodgkinson and Poland’s Anna Wielgosz pulled away to finish in the top two. Home favourite Majtie Kolberg pushed Shanahan close to the line with a season’s best 2:01:20 but ran out of track as the Leevale athlete secured her place in the final.

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In the women’s 4x400m relay, Ireland smashed through the previous national record of 3:27:48 to comfortably qualify for the final after finishing their heat in second place.

It could have been an even better result had the Dutch not pipped Irish anchor Sharlene Mawdsley on the line, but a stellar run from the quartet had ensured that a place in the final was long secured by that point, the final time of 3:26:06 comfortably a new Irish record.

Sophie Becker started things off, her decision to not compete in the individual event to keep herself fresh for the relay paying off after a strong run allowed Phil Healy to take the lead at the 500m mark. New national 400m record holder Rhasidat Adeleke was in a good position when Healy handed over to her and duly cashed in, powering into a commanding lead by the time with a phenomenal third leg of 49.49.

Mawdsley initially stretched the lead down the back straight but ultimately ran out of legs as the race ended with the Netherlands coming home to win in a time of 3:25.84.

The final will take place on Saturday evening.

In Friday morning’s other action that had Irish interest, a dropped baton cost Ireland dear as a faulty second exchange prevented Israel Olatunde, Mark Smyth, Colin Doyle and Joseph Ojewumi from finishing in their men’s 4x100m heat.

Ireland had aspirations of qualifying for the final as well as surpassing the national record of 39.23 seconds, only for a mix-up in the handover between Smyth and Doyle to end their hopes of completing the race.

New national 100m record holder Israel Olatunde had ran the first leg and Ireland were in a decent position when Smyth completed his 100m.

Great Britain won the heat in a time of 38.41, the Netherlands and Switzerland coming in behind them as the other automatic qualifiers.

Nathan Johns

Nathan Johns is an Irish Times journalist