Thomas Barr wins 400 metres hurdle at World University Games

Ciara Everard had to settle for sixth place over 800m

He was made work very hard for it and then Thomas Barr nailed it, winning the 400 metres hurdles at the 28th World University Games in Gwangju, South Korea in brilliant time of 48.78 seconds.

That was just off the Irish record of 48.65 seconds that Barr ran in the Rome Diamond League last month, but this was all about the gold medal for the 22 year old from Waterford.

He becomes the first Irish athlete to win a gold medal at the World University Games since Sonia O'Sullivan won the women's 1,500 metres in Sheffield in 1991, the same day that Niall Bruton also won gold in the men's 1,500m.

Here, coming off the last hurdle, Barr looked in danger of having to settle for silver, as Abdelma Lahoulou of Algeria briefly got his nose in front. Only Barr had more in reserve, kicking again in the final 20 metres for the win - much to the delight of the notable Irish support in the stadium.


Lahoulou still ran a personal best of 48.99 second, with Ivan Shablyuev from Russia taking bronze, also in a personal best of 49.04.

Barr is one of the few Irish athletes with the qualifying time for the World Championships in Beijing next month, where he is eyeing up a place in the final. And in this form those championships now can’t come soon enough.

In the race after, Ciara Everard had to settle for sixth place over 800m, running close to her best in 2:02.46. Victory there went to Angela Petty from New Zealand in a brilliantly timed finish, her time 1:59.06.

Also in Gwangju, at the Nambu University Aquatics Centre, Fiona Doyle captured her second World University Games medal by winning silver in the 50 metres breaststroke.

The Limerick swimmer, now based in the University of Calgary, won bronze earlier in the week in the 100 metres breaststroke, and went one place better this time. Doyle’s time of 31.09 seconds was just off her own Irish record of 30.93 seconds, with the gold medal going to the Ukrainian Mariia Liver.

Meanwhile John Travers had to settle for ninth place in a highly competitive 1,500 metres on the track, the Athlone IT student clocking 3:42.63, with victory going to the Russian Aleksei Kharitonov in a personal best of 3:39.13.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

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