Bruton thrown in at deep end
Niall Bruton has been drawn against Reyes Estevez of Spain, the fastest European over 1,500 metres this season, in the second of three semi-finals in the event this afternoon.
Bruton reports on the start line at 4.50 p.m. (Irish time) for quite the biggest test in a season which, to this point, has held little joy for him.
That, in part, is down to an arthritic condition which has troubled him at recurring intervals in recent years and delayed his selection in the European squad until the deadline for entries had almost expired.
Since then he has won a 1,500 metres in Barcelona, but he would be the first to admit that he is still some way off the form which earned him a place in the European final at Helsinki and again in the World Championship decider at Gothenburg.
Of the eight who will join him on the line, only Britain's Matthew Yates, at three min
utes 40.78 seconds, is slower than the Irishman's summer best of 3:38.74. And with just three to qualify automatically from the three races, plus the three fastest losers, that puts his chances of reaching the final in bleak perspective.
Bruton is capable of a surprise, however, and despite the ominous presence of Estevez, Branco Zorko of Croatia and Russia's Vyacheslav Shabunin, there is a small chance that he can prime himself for one of his better runs.
Originally, he was to have been accompanied in the preliminaries of the 1,500m by Mark Carroll, but that was before the Corkman discovered that it wasn't practical to undertake a double programme in the 1,500m and 5,000m.
Carroll's schedule, which once held out the prospect of as many as four races in the space of six days, has now been condensed to just one. With entries for the 5,000m falling short of expectations, this championship will now be decided in a straight final.
Another athlete to benefit from the revised programme is Susan Smith. The preliminaries of the women's 400m hurdles, scheduled for today, have been cancelled and she now has an additional day to prepare for the semi-finals.
Tom McGuirk, who carries Irish hopes in the men's equivalent, will compete in the third of four heats at 10.50 a.m. this morning. McGuirk is fifth fastest of eight starters and with only three to advance automatically, the dimensions of his task are considerable.
John Menton and Roman Linscheid will compete in the preliminaries of the hammer championship today, while Michael Casey and Pierce O'Callaghan take their chance in the final of the 20 kilometres walk.
Two former Polish Olympic gold medal winners have died in a car crash. Shot putter Vladyslaw Komar, 58, and pole vaulter Tadeusz Slusarski, 48 - winners of gold in Munich 1972 and Montreal 1976 respectively - were travelling between Szczecin and Swinoujscie when their car was in collision with three other vehicles.