Phil Healy fails to match heat time as she misses out on 400m final in Belgrade

Sprinter was touch and go whether she would compete in World Indoors after bout of Covid

Visibly drained by her effort and the occasion, Phil Healy missed out on the final of the 400 metres at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade in Friday, unable to repeat her brilliant running display from earlier in the day.

After winning her heat in the morning session, clocking a smooth 51.75 seconds, Healy went in the second of the two semi-finals believing a final spot was on. And though holding fourth place at the bell, she faded to sixth, clocking 52.40, the race won be event favourite Shaune Miller-Uibo from the Bahamas in 51.38.

As it turned out, had Healy matched her 51.75 from earlier she would have made the six-woman final. Still there was little complaint, particularly given she was laid low with Covid-19 last week, unsure until Friday morning whether or not she’d even get to compete.

“A bit of a messy race, yes,” she said, “To be up there, with the best, is obviously unreal, but I’ll have to go back and look at it, because it was certainly messy.”

Healy delayed her journey to Belgrade to put in one last “tester session” on Tuesday, which she admitted went “crap”. Her coach Shane McCormack told her she had “nothing to lose” by lining up, Healy adding: “Derval [O’Rourke] sent me a voice note yesterday saying the hard work is done, that last week is a few days out of years of hard work, so go out there and put it behind me. That’s what I did.”

Molly Scott also progressed to the semi-finals of the 60 metres, coming through earlier in the day too, and there she finished up seventh, clocking 7.23 seconds, though down on her recent best of 7.19.

“I thought it might be a bit faster, I came here to run a personal best, so I’m bit disappointed with that,” Scott said. “I’ve had a fantastic season but I didn’t come here to run a good time, I came here to do well.”

The middle distance hopes earlier in the day faded fast, Mark English also having his 800m preparations stalled by a bout of Covid, the two-time European Indoor medal winner clearly off colour when finishing fifth in his heat in 1:51.35.

“I haven’t had the right preparation,” said English. “I got Covid last week and I thought I was able to come out and run but it proved a little bit too much. But I’m excited to get back out and help the [4x400m] relay team on Sunday.”

Sarah Healy also bowed out in the women's 1,500m heats, finishing in fifth place, in 4:12.44, admitting afterwards that a lapse in concentration had cost her.

“I just let it get away from me, which is really annoying,” said Healy. “The way it played out, the girl in front of me got the third [qualifying] spot and I thought it was gone, it was my mistake. I should have kept going. It’s a big lesson. I should have stayed more calm but sometimes you accept it’s not going your way when you really shouldn’t.

Darragh McElhinney also lost out on qualifying from his 3,000m heat, finishing ninth in 8:06.31.