World Indoors: Phil Healy progresses to semi-finals of 400m

Irish runner tired towards the end but managed to go through as a fastest loser

Ireland’s Phil Healy on her way to finishing 3rd in her 400m heat the World Indoor Athletic Championships. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Ireland’s Phil Healy on her way to finishing 3rd in her 400m heat the World Indoor Athletic Championships. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

Indoor championship running is all about guts and tight margins – as Phil Healy now knows as well as anyone. In her first experience of the World Indoor Championships, Healy certainly made those margins count to progress to the semi-finals of the 400 metres.

She showed guts too. Running in the fifth of the six heats inside the Birmingham Indoor Arena, with only the top-two finishers sure of progressing, Healy took it out hard: running in the outside lane, she held the lead through the first lap in a nifty 24.03 seconds, and continued that charge down the backstretch.

Coming off the final bend however, she was passed first by Stephenie Ann McPherson from Jamaica, then Britain’s Eilidh Doyle, and although visibly tiring, held on for third, clocking 52.75. Although outside her best of 52.08, it was the best of the fastest losers, six of which also progressed to the semi-finals later this evening.

McPherson, a world bronze medallist from outdoors, took the win 52.18, with second place going to Doyle, an Olympic finalist in the 400m hurdles. At age 23 Healy, in other words, was in good company, and in the end happy perfectly to get through.

“I always knew it was going to be a testing for 100m, with Stephenie and Eilidh,” said Healy, actually the first Irish woman to make a World Indoor semi-final in this event. “So I knew I had to make that break first, because it’s really hard to pass on this track.

“It was quick at the bell, and I knew that my cost me, and it was fast, 52.75 still pretty quick. But it ticks that box, because it was all about taking it round by round, and it’s on now to the semi-finals.”

The Cork athlete actually ended up ninth fastest over the six heats, but things get more difficult now: only the top two in each of the three semi-finals will make Saturday’s final. Healy is back on the Birmingham track at 8.46 pm this evening, drawn in the third of those semi-finals, and in the difficult inside lane, with one of the gold medal favourites Courtney Okolo from the US in lane five. If Healy can match her 52.08 a final place is not impossible.

No such joy for the two other Irish women on the track earlier in the day, in the heats of the 60m. Amy Foster did enjoy a good start in her heat, before fading slightly to finish fifth in 7.35, and overall left just four places short of qualifying. “Not a bad run,” said Foster, who had run an Irish record of 7.27 earlier this month. “Just not the run I was looking for.”

In the first heat, Limerick teenager Ciara Neville had a slightly harder time of things, running 7.47 to finish seventh - well outside her best of 7.30.

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