A second-place finish has seen Thomas Barr qualify for tomorrow night’s final of the 400 metres hurdles at the European Athletics Championships in Berlin.
Thomas Barr did enough last night, but if he is to harbour medal hopes in tomorrow night’s final of the 400m hurdles at the European Championships, much better will be needed.
The 26-year-old is well aware of that, his second-place finish in last night’s semi-final in Berlin well in arrears of race winner Yasmani Copello of Turkey, who cruised to the finish in 48.88.
Barr’s time of 49.10 was a fraction down on his season’s best of 48.99, and well off his lifetime best of 47.97, but the Waterford man admitted afterwards he was struck by nerves ahead of the race, which he doesn’t expect to encounter tomorrow.
“Once I get to the final, I’m more settled into the championship and have a race plan in my head. The first race is always the worst for it, but when you come into a final it’s like, ‘great, let’s go for it now”.
Barr made a strong opening to last night’s race, but lost contact with the leaders up the back straight, requiring him to unleash a powerful finish to move from fourth to second over the final 100 metres.
“I felt like I went out very well to hurdle four and then I relaxed a bit too much. It was taking a bit more out of me than it should, so I eased off and refocused going into hurdle seven, but I knew I had the strength in the finishing straight to close down and to finish second.”
In the final, Norway’s Karsten Warholm will be the overwhelming favourite, along with Copello, and it’s likely Barr will require a time in the region of 48.7 to secure a minor medal, which he believes is possible.
“If I can pull out a really good race, on paper, on statistics, there’s a medal there, but at championships, anything can happen. It’s all to play for.”
Barr has drawn lane eight for the final, something he doesn’t believe will adversely affect him.
“It really makes no odds. If I was in lane one I’d have a view of the whole field, but in lane eight you’ve not got as sharp a turn so you can attack the hurdles more.”
Phil Healy brought her first assignment of the week to a close when bowing out of the women’s 100m last night after finishing seventh in her semi-final — and 20th overall — with 11.46.
“I’m really happy, that’s still one of my quickest runs,” declared the Ballineen sprinter, who will be back on track for the 200m heats on Friday.
By Cathal Dennehy