Mark English through to European Indoor 800m final

Beaten across the line by Britain’s Guy Learmonth but second place finish enough

In some ways qualifying was the hard part, because now that he's made the 800 metres final Mark English can truly start eyeing up a European Indoor medal. It won't come easy, but he's there with the chance and the knowledge of exactly what is required.

It was not the perfect semi-final either, although as good as - with English always in one of the two qualifying positions, then breaking to the front around the final bend. He was beaten across the line by Britain's Guy Learmonth, although by then was already safely through, his time of 1:50.54 just .04 off Learmonth.

“Qualifying was all that matters there,” confirmed English. “There’s no glory in winning a semi-final. It’s a whole new race again on Sunday. But that race more or less went as I expected it to go, and my plan was to sit in the top two. I didn’t think it would go out any quicker than 25 seconds for the first 200m, and it didn’t.

“I got myself into the position where I wanted to be at the second bend, sat there, and kicked on at 700m. Okay the British guy pipped me but I knew I was safe by then. So I’m still feeling fresh, and just looking forward to the final now.”


It will be fascinating six-man final - set for 2.30 pm Irish time. The gold medal favourite remains Marcin Lewandowski from Poland, who looked excellent when winning the third semi-final in 1:50.10, with Andreas Almgren from Sweden also looking very capable when winning the second semi-final in 1:47.24

For English, who won the bronze medal outdoors in Zurich last summer, tactics will once again be paramount, not that he wanted to discuss that in too much detail

“Well I don’t want to give too much away, in case one of my opponents reads this. It all depends how the first laps goes, and anything could happen. Lewandowski isn’t known for taking out races hard, nor is anybody, really. So we’ll have to wait and see, but certainly try to stay out of as much trouble as I can.

“Ideally, you want to be on the shoulder on the leader. It’s all about getting geared up now, but I feel I’m kicking into shape, feeling strong, and with a bit more in the tank, hopefully.”

There was no such joy for Declan Murray, who missed out on a place in the final, and the same for Ciara Everard, who was looking to make the women's 800m final like she did in Gothenburg two years ago.

Murray was left chasing Almgren in the second semi-final, and couldn’t quite get himself into contention, ending up fifth in 1:48.09, still a season best.

Everard found it even harder going in her semi-final, coming home sixth in 2:06.14, with Selina Buchel from Switzerland the surprise winner there in 2:01.92, with Britain's gold medal favourite Jenny Meadows also run out of a place in the final, finishing fourth.

Ireland will have one more final in Sunday's closing session after John Travers ran very smartly to make the 1,500m showdown, clocking a personal best of 3:41.37 to finish third, beating the fancied Spanish Diego Ruiz.

The Donore runner wisely avoided the chase of German Homiyu Tesfaye, who won in 3:40.05, coming from behind to claim third - much to the delight, no doubt, of his coach Jerry Kiernan.

“Jerry would have absolutely strangled me when I got home if I’d chased off after Tesfaye,” said Travers. “The trick was to stay relaxed. I was 57 seconds for the last 400m, which was good and I kept strong over the last 200m, I didn’t die off.”

Danny Mooney failed to make, finishing sixth in his heat in 3:48.96.


Men’s 800m final: Mark English: 14:30

Men’s 1,500m final: John Travers: 15.30

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics